Matta: SOP 1st, then travel bubble

Mohd Akil says strict measures must accompany the reciprocal green lane and travel corridor arrangements

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

AS MALAYSIA moves to open its borders with travel bubbles, the tourism sector said it needs to first come up with a “fool-proof” operating procedure to minimise the resurgence of Covid-19.

Malaysia has lined up a few countries that it wants to have reciprocal arrangements that will allow cross-border travel during the pandemic, a move that will revive tourism as well as business travel.

However, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) said strict measures must accompany the reciprocal green lane and travel corridor arrangements (RGL-TCA).

Matta president Mohd Akil Mohd Yusof said countries involved in the RGL-TCA must ensure the reopening of travel does not make matters worse and suggested that initially foreign travellers should be limited to specific destinations to limit any danger of spreading Covid-19.

He said while there is “no right or wrong way to implement the green lane”, strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) need to be implemented for the benefit of locals as well as visitors.

“All of the parties involved will have to be brave enough and prepared to minimise risks. They should learn as they go so that the new travel norm could be established.

“This, in turn, can also be the way to improve our tourism industry and the Malaysian economy until everyone is vaccinated worldwide,” Mohd Akil said.

The RGL-TCA scheme was given the greenlight by Indonesia earlier this month and is reported to be part of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s (Motac) recovery plans for Malaysia that were formulated last July to revitalise the sectors involved.

The idea has so far been well-accepted by the travel and tourism sectors, and is seen as “the light at the end of the tunnel” for many related businesses.

“Matta is always ready to assist Motac as well as the Malaysian government and other relevant ministries in establishing the green lane. I’d say it is a national effort,” Mohd Akil said.

Echoing the sentiment is the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) president Francis Teo, who assured commitment in helping to speed up the recovery process for business travel.

He said the association is looking forward to seeing the opening of borders between Indonesia and Malaysia as it is anticipated to facilitate the movement of business travellers.

“The success of the RGL-TCA would help support and speed up the opening of business events industry in Malaysia.”

Teo said for the RGL-TCA to work, details of the initiative would need to be identified properly when it is implemented, especially after the Covid-19 situation in both countries improves.

“Airports and immigrations should look into providing permanent special lanes and counters dedicated to these travellers to facilitate their movement upon arrival.

“Whatever SOPs the government decides, we hope that travellers from Indonesia will abide by them, be it prerequisite quarantine days, vaccinations, swab tests, or other requirements deemed necessary.”

Teo said MACEOS members have pledged to assist and accommodate the country’s upcoming vaccination programme.

“We have written to the Malaysian government expressing our interest in contributing towards the successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination to the people.

“Our members include 29 convention centre operators located in many major cities in the country.”

Teo added that the association proposed to work with the government by designating these participating venues as temporary mass vaccination centres.

“MACEOS is willing and prepared to work closely with the Malaysian government to ensure the success of this vaccination drive.

“We hope that through this collaboration, we can facilitate the government’s goal of providing vaccinations to 70% of the population, equivalent to 23 million Malaysians.”


Read our previous report here

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