Malaysia launches new tourism plan after $25 billion loss in 2020 - GulfToday

Malaysia launches new tourism plan after $25 billion loss in 2020

Malaysia tourism

Pedestrians cross a road in a business district of Kuala Lumpur. Reuters

Malaysia on Wednesday launched a 10-year plan to restart its battered tourism sector, which is estimated to have lost more than 100 billion ringgit ($24.61 billion) this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Southeast Asian country had initially targeted 30 million tourist arrivals through its ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ programme, up from 28 million last year.

But the global pandemic has crippled the tourism industry, which in 2019 had contributed 240.2 billion ringgit, or 15.9% of Malaysia’s gross domestic product, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Malaysia closed its borders to most foreigners in March, with entry strictly limited to business purposes, as part of restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

That has helped to keep infections to less than 100,000 and COVID-19 deaths to just 439.

“Clearly, we have been impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic this year and economic activities related to the tourism industry... are being forced to face their most difficult moments,” Muhyiddin said during a virtual launch of a national tourism policy for 2020-2030.

The policy would be focused on strengthening competitiveness, encouraging sustainable and inclusive tourism, as well as planning for future disasters, Muhyiddin said.

It also seeks to brand Malaysia as an ecotourism destination, with a commitment towards balancing the development and conservation of its natural environment and heritage, he said.

Malaysia’s consumer price index (CPI) fell 1.7% from a year earlier in November, mostly due to lower fuel prices, government data showed on Wednesday.

The median forecast among nine economists surveyed by Reuters was for the index to decline 1.5% on-year, matching the rate posted in October.

November’s decline was driven by an 11.1% on-year drop in the transport sector index as well as lower housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel prices, the Statistics Department said in a statement.

Malaysia has imposed anti-dumping duties on certain flat-rolled steel products from China, South Korea and Vietnam for five years, its Ministry of International Trade and Industry said on Wednesday.

The duties on flat-rolled products of non-alloy steel plated or coated with aluminum and zinc, come after an anti-dumping investigation was carried out on behalf of the domestic industry, the ministry said.

The investigation found that “the subject merchandise is being imported into Malaysia at a price lower than the selling price in the alleged countries”, it said in a statement.

The tax would range between 2.18% to 18.88% for products from China, and 9.98% to 34.94% for products from South Korea, and 3.06% to 37.14% for products from Vietnam.

The duties came into effect on Dec. 12 and will be imposed until Dec. 11, 2025.

Vietnam made a similar move on Wednesday, putting duties on some coil or sheet cold-rolled steel products originating from China, also for five years, starting Dec. 28.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Top Glove Corporation, site of the country’s biggest virus outbreak of more than 5,000 cases, said on Wednesday that whistleblowers will no longer face termination and three helplines for worker complaints had been established.

Reuters reported last week that 27-year-old Nepali worker Yubaraj Khadka was fired after raising concerns about the lack of social distancing at the factories.

Khadka took two photos in May of fellow employees crowding into a Top Glove factory, which he shared with a worker rights activist.

“If this incident happens today, this termination will not happen because we have engaged consultants and they have guided us on what is the right thing to do,” Managing Director Lee Kim Meow said in a radio station interview.

The world’s largest medical glove maker has established three helplines for aggrieved workers, one internal and two manned by a consultant and an audit firm, Lee told BFM. He did not name the external firms operating the helplines.

Lee said Khadka did not give the company feedback on the working conditions, but it has since improved its processes.

“We actually spoke to him and he admitted his intention was to pass the photo to someone so that basically that someone will use it to discredit Top Glove,” he said.

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