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KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 -- Pertubuhan Gemilang Agensi Pelancongan dan Pengusaha Bas Malaysia (GAPP) has suggested that tour bus drivers be given counselling to help them manage psychological and emotional stress after losing their source of income for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GAPP deputy president Wan Shairi Wan Ahmad said since 2019, many tour bus operators had bought new buses in preparation and to support the government's efforts in the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 initiative.
"On average, the debt incurred for a new tour bus is between RM8,000 and RM12,000 a month. There were also tour bus operators who bought more than one bus at that time. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic (restrictions), tour bus operators could not earn any income," he said.
Wan Shairi said this at an online press conference today in conjunction with the Malaysian Tourism Council (MTC) presentation of special assistance to tour bus drivers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said in the past three months, he had received information that four tour bus operators had died, with three of them reportedly due to heart disease while another jumped from a building. All of them were experienced tourism industry activists.
According to him, so far there are 6,404 tour buses nationwide registered with the authorities.
Meanwhile, MTC president Uzaidi Udanis said they managed to raise RM30,000 through an online charity concert at the Malaysia Virtual Experience platform developed by the Malaysian Productivity Corporation on April 30 to be distributed to the tour bus drivers.
He said the recipients under the first phase involving 100 tour bus drivers would have RM300 each credited into their accounts starting Monday.
At the online session, some tour bus drivers also shared their experiences on the difficulty of getting a new job due to the age factor, which has led to some of them selling satay and working as couriers.
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