Local Tourism in the New Normal

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The need for a change in modus operandi.

Apart from shopping, the largest tourism sectors are accommodation, food and beverage, and public transportation. Are hotels, restaurants and tour bus operators gearing their businesses for the new normal or do they plan to continue with the same modus operandi as before?

In April, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysians should expect significant changes in their lifestyle and daily routine which could continue for several more months if not years. Central to this would be social distancing and avoid contacting objects used by others.

As in shopping malls, the air-conditioning of medium-size and large hotels are centralised. Although fresh air is constantly added, most of the cool air is recirculated as well as viruses, as existing filtration systems were not designed to filter out microscopic Covid-19.

I used to point out that individual air-conditioners used in homes, budget hotels and offices located at shophouses recirculated the same stale air within the office throughout the day and rooms overnight, I now find them most suitable in the new norm with some adjustment.

A ventilation fan must be installed to suck out the stale air and ideally placed at the toilet, with a similar size opening at the opposite end of the bedroom high up on the wall for fresh air to enter and covered with gauze to prevent insects.

Hotels that have taken such measures and have their rooms disinfected and contents sanitised after every usage are bound to attract more bookings than those that do not bother. The same goes for restaurants located at shophouses using room air-conditioners.

I used to dislike non-air-conditioned coffeehouses found at most resorts, but they are now my preferred choice, along with non-airconditioned restaurants in the city, as I could enjoy my food with greater peace of mind than in enclosed air-conditioned places.

Many ordinary coffee shops and shophouse restaurants are keeping their old tables and chairs. They are marked with no-sitting crosses for physical distancing and look pathetic. It would be better to get rid of all the old tables and redesign the seating arrangement altogether.

Long counters can be placed on the entire length of the left and right walls. Diners are to face the wall and each seat fitted with partitions on both sides to prevent exchange of breath with ventilation fans above to suck away the air.

Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Two more long counters facing each other but separated by a central partition are to be placed in the middle of the restaurant. Such a design allows maximum seating while maintaining physical distancing with or without any Movement Control Order.

As for tour buses, most of them are fitted with 10 or 11 rows of seats. They can be reduced to eight rows for physical distancing and couples can be seated together while individual travellers seated alone on two-abreast seats. New tour buses can be fitted with single seats on one side.

By now, a large tour bus operator could announce that a professional team has been set up to disinfect tour buses and the facility is also available for other operators. Such announcement will inspire confidence locally and abroad that Malaysia has prepared for the new normal.

But adjusting to the new normal for most people and businesses is nothing more than putting up with the inconveniences instead of raising professionalism by taking necessary measures. Crisis such as pandemics certainly separate the wheat from the chaff.

The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own/strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan from Petaling Jaya.