GEORGE TOWN, Jan 14 (Bernama) -- Against the backdrop of the expected slowing down of economic activities and rising cost of living this year, the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) is likely to give hope to local businesses.
Penang Hoteliers' Association chairman Datuk Lim Mee Lee said VMY 2014 would help spur business for Penangites, especially businessmen engaged in the food and beverages industry, hoteliers, hawkers and transportation operators.
"Most of the association members are hoping for good business prospects this year due to increasing foreign and domestic tourists amid cheap and affordable food still available in Penang," he told Bernama.
Lim however said hoteliers were worried over the Penang state government's move to impose levy on hotel rooms this year as tourists would move to other tourists' havens, namely to neighbouring Thailand.
The state government had proposed in the 2014 State Budget the implementation of taxes between RM2 and RM5 per hotel room per night from March next year onwards.
However, the plan was brought forward to middle of this year, most likely by June or July, pending confirmation of the rate and collection mechanism.
"Malaysia, especially Penang, is an attractive region as it has been listed as a World Heritage Site, offering cheap and affordable hotel rooms, wide variety of food and friendly English-speaking community," Lim said.
Besides all the advantages, the state government must cooperate closely with the federal government to further boost the tourism industry and attract tourists. "We don't have many international events in Penang and therefore the state government must work hard and cooperate with the federal government to bring in international events related to cultures, business conferences, expositions and sports," Lim said.
He also said the state government should take action on illegal budget hotels or assist the operators to obtain operating licences. "The illegal budget hotels are growing like mushrooms lately," he said.
The local authorities should take action against illegal budget hotel owners and not just issue compounds to ensure that hotels are safe for tourists and also to develop a fair and responsible tourism industry," he added.