KUCHING: The Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association’s (MyBHA) plan to increase their members’ hotel rates by up to 40 percent over the next three months would hurt the tourism industry in the long term.

Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (pix) said increasing the rates should not be the solution to be considered in facing the rising operational cost or threats as claimed by the association.

“It will not help the (tourism) industry. You can come up with all kind of excuses but please think that it will disturb the equilibirum,” he told reporters after attending the Sarawak Premier’s Trophy handing over ceremony for the International Junior Tennis Championships here today.

He was commenting on a statement by MyBHA president, Sri Ganesh Michiel last Saturday that Sarawak budget hotels would raise their rates if nothing was done to tackle activities that threatened their businesses.

Sri Ganesh said among the threats were unlicensed operators offering short term rental accomodations and unregulated travel agencies, in addition to rising operational cost.

Abdul Karim said his ministry as well as the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts (MOTAC) had worked hard to organise over 200 events yearly to attract tourists to come into Malaysia, which in turn has benefitted the hotel industry.

He said as far as Sarawak is concerned, the events had lured in an increasing number of tourists, who would definitely need to stay in hotels and this situation has led to the increase the occupancy rates for hotels.

“They have to stay somewhere, even without you (the hotels) doing the marketing (promotion). The industry is thriving. Bersyukurlah,” he said.

On the issues of unlicensed operators affecting the budget hotels, he said although the hotel licensing process comes under the local authority’s purview, his ministry was prepared to work together to ensure all operators in the state are regulated.

“We will look into this matter and discuss about with the local government on ways to deal with it,” he added.