Timely Help is Like Oxygen that Helps Small Businesses Breathe in Deep

So, now that we have travel bubbles, what’s your next destination?

The tourism sector is an important contributor to Malaysia’s GDP. With thousands of unique Insta-worthy locations, delectable foods, and a rich heritage made up of not just multicultural elements, but also scenic, natural landscapes, Malaysia has always been on millions of tourists’ must-visit list. And her islands are arguably the most Insta-worthy of all natural attractions, with Langkawi topping most people’s favourite Malaysian destinations.

Langkawi’s fine, sandy beaches and clear waters lured more than 3.9 million visitors in 2019 (that’s nearly one in every twelve Malaysians!) – that is, until THE pandemic happened. For the past year and a half, the island, just like many other lepak spots in Malaysia, has been almost empty.

As the nation’s population get fully vaccinated, and more sectors are reopening, Langkawi led the hotel and resorts operators’ queues with its pilot reopening on September 16, 2021; and many supporting businesses, especially those operating in tourism, finally flung their doors open again.

One of many happy operators is Azami Hamdani, who owns Simfoni Hotel. Recently, he finally welcomed tourists and visitors to his hotel in beautiful Langkawi after a lengthy, involuntary hiatus. 

Azami recalls how his business took a blow when the pandemic hit.  Running a hotel and maintaining employees when there is no income is no easy task. As COVID-19 cases increased and the MCO continued, Hamdani had to think of alternative ways to pay his employees who were already struggling to feed their families amidst the pandemic.

In his desperation, Azami researched and applied for various grants to ensure his business continuity. Thankfully, he found the right government support to help keep his business afloat. Of all the initiatives he applied for, Hamdani said the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) was the first and the fastest to respond. Ready to help Simfoni Hotel to remain afloat, NCER approved the grant quickly. Azami used the funds to pay for his overheads and other expenses, including his employees’ salaries.  

With the grant, he was able to solve his biggest challenges during the business closure – cashflow and the maintenance expenses for his hotel.

Simfoni Hotel received RM157, 000 in total, but Hamdani decided to utilise only RM52,000 from the amount received and returned the balance. Why? He felt that, in the spirit of #KeluargaMalaysia, he should not hold on to funding that could be used to help other businesses in a similar or worse situation.  Long story short, do not give up and do check on assistance measures at Manfaat Belanjawan website to know what benefits you may be eligible for.  

Today, Azami hopes, more tourists will visit Langkawi and support his and other local businesses to recover and grow post-pandemic. It’s time to go on a well-deserved vacay to Langkawi, don’t you think?

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