The China pneumonia outbreak or commonly known as the Coronavirus which hit China at the end of last year has affected many countries across the globe. Malaysia which started with 3 cases on January 25, has so far recorded a total of 18 positive cases of the Wuhan-originated virus.
As the government works hard in controlling the spread of the virus, the tourism industry is feeling the pinch as many Chinese cancelled or delayed their travel plans, as authorities impose restrictions on travel.
While many countries sought to contain the virus, Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had said that there are no plans to stop Chinese nationals from entering the country. He said, however, that the screening efforts, especially those traveling from China, would be intensified.
Additionally, in an earlier statement, Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture Mohamaddin Ketapi said that Malaysians should not discriminate against Chinese travellers who visit the country.
It seems like the Pakatan Harapan government is being more welcoming than ever before as the other half of the world is finding ways to restrict entries of Chinese visitors. This causes panic among Malaysians with many criticizing the Pakatan Harapan government for their lack of proactiveness in handling the crisis.
This is reflected in the Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture’s top issue whereby he does not seem to be worried of how the Wuhan-originated virus would affect the tourism industry of Malaysia. In his statement, Ketapi said that the country is not only dependent on Chinese tourists, saying that he is confident that his Ministry will be able to reach their target of 30 million tourist arrivals for Visit Malaysia 2020.
Besides that, Ketapi also disagreed when Masjid Putra decided to close the venue for non-Muslims visitors over fears of a coronavirus spread while stressing that all tourists arriving in Malaysia are healthy.
After Singapore and Indonesia, China became the third-largest tourist arrivals in Malaysia. In 2019, there a total of 3.2 million Chinese visitors in the country.
The government’s lack of proactiveness also came to the attention of Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong.
Wee said that Pakatan Harapan should put attention in the spill over effects of the coronavirus outbreak instead of coming with pointless statements about the crisis. This, according to Wee, includes the economy and the tourism industry.