by NURUL SUHAIDI/ pic by BERNAMA
Malaysia today welcomes the arrival of the first international flight, coinciding with the most anticipated transition of the country into the endemic phase and the reopening of the international border.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said, the ministry targets two million visits for the remaining year however the target is still conservative as she is optimistic the number will surpass the target within just weeks or months.
“Based on the number of travellers today, we are observing the trend that was just a glimpse of the travelers. The number will increase and the travel activities will soon be pouring in,” she said.
“In Singapore alone, the number of tourists can easily reach two million within two weeks. When we combine the overall visitors who are in and out from Malaysia as well as other countries, the number is way more because we have many flights operating daily,” she explained.
“Domestically, many recreational parks and centres have reopened for bookings and I anticipate more people will look forward to making a comeback and spending for leisure activities,” she said during the press conference at the welcome reception held in KLIA.
She noted that the reopening is most awaited especially among tourism players.
“I believe businesses have done necessary preparation, such as hiring more workers and getting their facilities ready to welcome the travellers.”
Nancy encouraged tourism players to utilise the digital method for promotional activities in an attempt to attract more crowds to experience their products and services.
According to her, the reopening is also an opportunity for players to highlight hidden treasures and tourism destinations in outskirt areas, allowing local businesses to expand their offerings and alleviate the domestic tourism industry.
“At the ministry, we and all relevant agencies have met to discuss the potential challenges we may face and ways to address them during the reopening, and as a result, we have a task force and volunteers ready to provide support and assistance for travelers for the first three weeks until the process is familiarised.”
“Most importantly, we want the tourist to have a smooth process and pleasant experience upon their arrival,” Nancy added.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) Managing Director, Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood said, it has done the preparation since early days with the transport minister and Ministry of Health (MoH) to come up with a strategy to reduce the line-up among the travelers
“We are happy that MoH also agrees to implement our suggestions to enable a more seamless process, instant and convenience for travelers,” he said.
“There will be glitches or hiccups since this is the first day but overall as we can see the process has been smooth and successful,” Iskandar added.
The Malaysian Immigration Department’s “autogate” system is now fully operational to accommodate Malaysians, but overseas visitors must still pass through a manual gate.