Tourism industry to face 'great repercussions' should entertainment outlets close early

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 30): Local tour and travel agents today expressed concern of the tourism industry possibly facing "great repercussions" if all entertainment outlets in the city are to be closed by 1am.

They said the situation would be "further exasperated" by a departure levy for travellers leaving from Malaysian airports starting June 1, 2019.

In a statement today, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) said it is of the view that the local economy would suffer from less of the vibrancy which businessmen and investors bring to its shores.

"It should be noted that Malaysia’s tourism industry employs 3.2 million persons and contributes 22.7% to total employment. As such, closing entertainment outlets at 1am sharp may create a ripple effect on our tourism industry and affect our country’s economy,” warned its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

“The reasons given are frivolous, but the repercussions could be great. As it is, the night scene in Kuala Lumpur leaves much to be desired for tourists," Tan said it the statement.

DBKL ought to take into cognisance that the city is not just for local residents, but also for domestic and foreign tourists, he added.

The association was responding to reports quoting Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad as saying that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would ensure all entertainment outlets in the city would be closed by 1am.

“Last year, Kuala Lumpur attracted 12.29 million international tourists, ahead of world-renowned cities such as Rome, Tokyo, Istanbul, Seoul, Miami, Barcelona and Shanghai. Curtailing operating hours of entertainment outlets would certainly dampen visitors’ experience [who are] unlikely to return for more.

“Kuala Lumpur would also be perceived as less tourist-friendly, which will affect visitor arrivals, and the total number for the whole country dropped for the first nine months of this year," Tan said.

On Thursday, Khalid announced entertainment outlets in the city will no longer be allowed to operate past 1am, beginning January. However, exceptions will be made for entertainment outlets with special permission to cater to foreign tourists.