By Chew Lip Song
THE travel restrictions imposed following the Covid-19 outbreak has hit Sarawak’s hospitality industry hard, as over 100 hotels in the state have shut down or are being wound up since March.
Malaysia Budget Hotel Association Sarawak Chapter chairman Lau Nai Meng said April and May were the worst as hotels were forced to shut after the Movement Control Order came into force on March 18, The Star reported.
“Hotels have had zero income during these two months, and the bulk of a hotel’s expenses are rental, the salaries of workers and the utility bills.
“Hotels have had to pay all of these expenses even though they had no income at all, ” said Lau.
Most of them were forced to close down for good as they failed to get discounts on the rental from their landlords, he added.
Lau’s advice to hotel owners thinking of shutting down their hotels for good was to continue to negotiate on a discount with the landlords.
“I am of the opinion that businesses that were not allowed to operate during the MCO, like hotels should be exempted from paying rental as they had no income, and shops that were allowed to open but saw poor business should be allowed to pay 50% of the rental, ” he said.
According to Lau, some of the affected hotels could not apply for the wage subsidy programme due to complications in the Socso contributions of their workers.
Under the programme, Malaysians earning less than RM4,000 a month are eligible for the subsidies, with the amount being dependent on the size of the workforce of the company.
Companies that employ more than 200 people will receive RM600 per retained worker, while those employing between 75 to 200 employees will get RM800, and those with fewer than 75 employees RM1,200.
“I hope hotels who have yet to register their employees, who are either full-time or part-time staff with Socso, will do so for their workers’ benefit,” he said.