THE Malaysian government's recent decision to immediately lift the 30 per cent ethnic Malay (Bumiputera) equity requirement for the tourism sector has been positively received by the private sector.
Commenting on the liberalisation which now allows 100 per cent foreign equity ownership of four- and five-star hotels, Malaysian Association of Hotels vice-president, Mr Ivo R Nekvapil, said: "It will open a huge portal for new investments, which will in turn create an upswing in job opportunities for the locals. It will also open the door for more international hotel brands to come to Malaysia, which is good for the country."
Kuala Lumpur-based Nazar Travel & Tours managing director, Mr K Narayanan, foresees consolidation among smaller local travel companies as this would enable them to compete more effectively with larger foreign travel operators setting up their offices in the country.
Announcing the decision to liberalise 27 service sub-sectors on April 22, which includes tourism, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said it was part of Malaysia's commitment to ASEAN.
Tourism services liberalised include providing full foreign equity ownership for four- and five-star hotels and their f&b outlets; setting up of theme parks, convention and exhibition centres with a seating capacity of more than 5,000; and allowing travel agents from ASEAN countries to set up agencies in Malaysia to sell inbound tours.
Foreign travel agencies outside of ASEAN wanting to set up an office in Malaysia still have to find a local partner to work with, but it need not be of ethnic Malay origin.
The government aims to create a business environment conducive to attracting more foreign investments and creating higher-value employment opportunities.
Source : TTG
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