• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Elections should put a smile on the face of the travel and hospitality industry

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Oct 15, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Despite the gloomy skies of the monsoon season, the 15th General Election (GE15) should still bring a ray of sunshine to the travel and hospitality industry.

Even with forecasts of lower voter turnout due to political fatigue and the possibility of election day being a weekday, domestic travel is expected to increase during the election period.

Indeed, party workers, election workers and voters will be on the ground, said the chairman of the Malaysian Association of Travel and Travel Agencies, Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

“Hotels, transport service providers and catering establishments can expect a significant increase in revenue,” he added.

When asked if there had been any cancellations of tours or changes in holiday dates by holidaymakers, Tan said that had not been the case as voting is not compulsory in Malaysia.

“Many families are continuing their vacations abroad regardless of the election date, and international tours that were booked earlier are likely to continue.

“Cancellations are minimal except for active politicians and party members who may have other responsibilities,” he said.

According to the president of the Melaka Tourism Association, Madelina Kuah, no reservations of independent travelers or group package tours have been canceled so far.

She said since Melaka had already held its state elections in 2021, there were only six parliamentary seats up for grabs in GE15.

“On voting day, people who have committed to travel are likely to go ahead,” Kuah said.

Sky Mirror Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd managing director Dyven Wong said people were waiting for the Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the date of the poll before rescheduling travel plans.

“To date, no customer has canceled or postponed reservations due to GE15,” he said.

Political analyst, Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia, expects voter turnout in this election to be lower than in GE14 in 2018, which was 82.32%.

Low turnout will give Barisan Nasional an advantage, he said, adding that high turnout in GE14 saw Pakatan Harapan form government for the first time, while low voter turnouts in Melaka and Johor States secured great victories for Barisan Nasional.

“It is very likely that many Malaysians will not return to vote unless the political parties can convince them,” the professor said.

Prof Sivamurugan also said a low turnout could also be expected if the GE15 is held on a weekday, adding that this is nothing new.

“The last GE took place on a Wednesday. In fact, our first GE after independence in 1959 was held on a Wednesday; GE9 on a Tuesday; and GE10 on a Monday.

“However, it is better to have it on a weekend to encourage more voters to come and vote,” he said, adding that Malaysian voters are also tired of the continuous politics since 2018.

“A ‘wow’ or feel-good factor will motivate them to come out, but it all depends on the issues raised by parties and candidates,” he said.

The EC will meet on Thursday to set the nomination and voting dates.

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