Reopening of borders without travel bubble needs further study – Nancy

by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE

KUALA LUMPUR – Various factors need to be carefully studied before Malaysia’s tourism sector and international borders can be allowed to fully reopen without the implementation of travel bubbles.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (picture) said thorough study and preparations, including discussions with the tourism ministries in other countries, were among her ministry’s ongoing efforts.

She said even though the government would not reopen the borders on March 1 as recommended by the National Recovery Council (NRC), the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) is optimistic that the success of the Langkawi Domestic Travel Bubble pilot project could be set as the benchmark for the sector.

“Based on the success of the travel bubble project in Langkawi, MOTAC already has the confidence for the country’s borders to be reopened.

“However, the matter needs to be further studied as some countries have yet to allow their people to travel and this must be taken into consideration for the tourism sector to fully reopen,” she told reporters after opening the ‘Statesman’s Talk: Thoughts and Leadership of Tun Hussein Onn’ programme at Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here today.

Overall, Nancy said the two travel bubble projects in Langkawi, each began on Sept 16 (for domestic travellers) and on Nov 15 (for international travellers) last year, had recorded over 720,000 local and foreign tourist arrivals with tourism income amounting to RM750 million as at Dec 31, 2021.

For the Langkawi International Travel Bubble project, the number of foreign tourist arrivals recorded as of Feb 9 was 4,274 without any case of COVID-19 transmission.

On Feb 8, the NRC proposed to the government to fully reopen the country’s borders as early as March 1, without the need of the mandatory quarantine, but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said it could not be done as further study needs to be conducted on several aspects first.