KUCHING (Mar 18): The new federal Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) aid will help keep afloat Sarawak’s tourism players who have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
Welcoming the aid announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, the state’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said the latest package would ease the burdens faced by players in the tourism sector with its grants, electricity bill discount and others.
”This package could at least help the tourism industry players to sustain business until the economy recovers,” Abdul Karim told Utusan Borneo, The Borneo Post’s sister daily.
Worth RM20 billion, Pemerkasa aims at curtailing the spread of COvid-19, drive economic recovery, strengthen national competitiveness, ensure a regional and community inclusion agenda, and transform the economy.
Among others, the government will give more than 5,000 tour agencies registered with the federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture a special one-off grant of RM3,000 each, while operators of homestays registered with the ministry would be given RM600 each.
Abdul Karim said even though the state has its own economic packages to assist the local tourism industry players, the federal grants would provide the additional boost they required.
“With these assistance in place, it is my hope that companies, firms and individuals in the tourism industry could at least sustain and not close shop,” he said.
The federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri also said Pemerkasa would help ensure the survival of the tourism industry.
“Although we are facing the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic which is also having an impact on the whole world, the government is always concerned in ensuring that all parties in the economic chain related to the tourism sector such as accommodation, transportation, food and beverage, travel agencies, arts and cultural heritage assets and event management in the country, are given attention,” she said in a statement today.
Under Pemerkasa, the government is extending the tourism tax and service tax exemption on accommodation provided by hotel operators until Dec 31 this year.
Expressing her gratitude to the prime minister for the new assistance, Nancy, who is also Batang Sadong MP, also welcome the government’s aim to allow inter-state travel in stages depending on the number of people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.