The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) lamented that the "government knows best" mentality is persisting despite the worrisome state of tourism in the country.
Matta president Tan Kok Liang pointed out that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism in the country was already in a state of decline.
"It is a known fact that the tourism growth in Asean countries was so much higher whereas international arrivals for Malaysia were on the decline since 2014," he said.
Instead of engaging with stakeholders, Tan said the government in 2017 kicked out dissenting voices from the Tourism Malaysia Board.
"The past presidents of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and Matta were 'kicked out' from the Tourism Malaysia Board for voicing out the industry's opinion before the implementation of the Tourism Tax in 2017.
"Both the national associations have had no representation since then," he said.
Now, former Tourism Malaysia director-general Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg have also expressed concern about tourism in Malaysia and called for Matta and MAH to be reinstated into the Tourism Malaysia Board.
Tan said Mirza's constructive input was timely.
Tan also expressed concern about the government's latest National Tourism Policy 2020-2030 (NTP) launched on Dec 23 last year.
"Sadly, the days of 'the government knows best' still exists," he said.
He noted that the NTP did not address travel challenges under the new norm of Covid-19 nor provide a roadmap to revitalising the industry after the pandemic.
He added that domestic travel, which is crucial for the recovery of the tourism industry, was also omitted.
"There was no formal and exhaustive consultation with key industry leaders like Matta in the creation of the NTP," he said.