Inbound tourism set to pick up with borders reopening

NRC decides to open the country’s borders for international tourists by Jan 1, 2022

by ANIS HAZIM / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

THE travel sector is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after the National Recovery Council (NRC) decided to open the country’s borders for international tourists by Jan 1, 2022, at the latest.

This would mean that inbound tourism will finally get to kick-start its operations — after being dormant for 20 months and incurring more than RM100 billion losses.

Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) president Uzaidi Udanis said while the borders reopening is definitely good news, the council is concerned whether the country is ready in terms of promotions and how it will market its international tourism segment to foreign tourists.

“Last week, we (MTC) attended the London World Travel Market virtual convention and we could see most of the countries around the world were very competitive in opening their international borders for tourism,” said Uzaidi.

He cited Saudi Arabia, which has spent large sums of money to welcome international tourists, as an example.

“This industry is very competitive and we need to see how we want to market our country to international tourists. Otherwise, we will be left behind by other countries.”

Uzaidi said tourism players are all set to welcome international tourists, but are dependent on the market attractions for Malaysian tourism.

This, he said, will need cooperation from all industry players and not just the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture alone.

The NRC yesterday announced that the country’s international borders will be opened by Jan 1 at the latest to accelerate the social recovery in the tourism sector.

Its chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the decision has taken note of the situation in the tourism sector, which is seeing a relatively slow recovery due to the absence of international tourists.

On Monday, Malaysia announced that it will open the vaccinated travel lanes with Singapore in stages starting Nov 29, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to travel between both countries.

Subsequently on Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob also said that a similar travel corridor with Indonesia will also be established in stages.

Uzaidi expects that Malaysia will open its international borders for tourists from Asean countries.

“About 70% of international tourists were from Asean countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“So, we are very dependent on these countries, as well as other Asean countries,” he added.

At the same time, MTC also wants the government to consider European, American and Middle-Eastern tourists as they are all ready to travel.

MTC also views that Malaysia will also see the arrival of international tourists who want to escape the winter season, if the country’s border opens as per schedule.