Worrying times for hospitality industry

Lyna Mohamad

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to businesses and economies globally. Among its casualties is the hospitality industry – spanning across airline and travel agencies to hotels and tourism-related sectors – which has been brought to its knees.

Association of Travel Agents Brunei Deputy President Colonel (Rtd) Haji Zainal bin Haji Harun said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in local travel agencies not securing any business since March 2020.

Many travel agencies had to lay off staff and close office to minimise overheads, while others had to put the staff on unpaid leave indefinitely. If the situation continues, they may be forced to close down.

“We are happy that Brunei Darussalam has been COVID-19 free for the last two months. However, we still cannot say we are totally free from the pandemic as our neighbours and the region are still registering positive cases,” he said.

Colonel (Rtd) Haji Zainal foresees that the tourism industry will be the last to recover as tourists will need time to regain their confidence to travel.

“We are grateful to have assistance from the government initiatives such as salary subsidies and loan deferment. However, travel agents are really suffering. Further assistance is needed to help the sector recover from the pandemic,” a travel operator said.