Tourism recovery is hampered by a lack of personnel

JOHOR BARU: The shortage of tour bus drivers in Johor is a major impediment to the recovery of the local tourism industry.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit and the sector became stagnant, many of these drivers were forced to look for other jobs to survive, said Edwin Tay, chairman of the Malaysian China Tourism Association (MCTA) in Johor.

“We don’t blame them for that, because they had to do everything they could to survive and feed their families.

“While we are pleased that the tourism sector has finally rebooted after two and a half years, we are now facing a staffing challenge, especially for tour bus and minibus drivers. Only a few of them decided to return to the industry,” he said in an interview.

Tai said that in addition to drivers, the entire sector also lacks office staff, such as travel agents and administrative clerks.

“They are taking a wait-and-see attitude as the sector as a whole has not stabilized yet,” he said.

He added that the situation indirectly affected booth attendance at the upcoming MCTA Travel Fair at Sutera Mall on July 29 and 30.

“Travel agencies can’t afford to take up too many stands as they don’t have enough staff to handle the crowds,” he said.

Tai said he hopes the government can help by putting in place policies that make it attractive for job seekers to enter the tourism sector, which also boosts the country’s economy.

Deputy Chairman of the Malaysian Association of Tours and Travel Agencies Johor (MATTA) Katherine Lee said the main reason for the lack of staff is wages.

Many tour bus drivers, travel agents and tour guides are reluctant to return to the tourism sector because they have found new sources of income, she said.

“Over the past two years, they have branched out into e-commerce, e-commerce, and insurance and real estate. We cannot compete with the revenues offered by these industries,” she added.

However, the chairman and organizer of the Johor Baru MATTA fair, which will be held August 5-7 at the Austin International Convention Center, said she was confident in the recovery of the tourism sector.


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