by AUFA MARDHIAH / pic by TMR FILE
THE tourism industry may take up to two to three years to recover, said National Recovery Council chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
“As I have been briefed, it will take some time before the situation will recover as before, maybe more than a year or two.
“However, this is a good and positive start — when the situation on the borders, not only in Kuala Lumpur, but also Singapore in the south of the Peninsula and in the north with the Thai border fully opened — we hope that the country’s economic recovery process will be more vigorous and quick,” said Muhyiddin during a working visit to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) last Friday.
“As raised in the national rehabilitation council meeting on April 14, among Asean countries to impose a mutual recognition arrangement (mutual agreement not to impose tests) to facilitate the affairs of visitors entering the country, (we are) confident that in a few months, this year and next year, the country’s economy will be more vibrant,” he said.
Muhyiddin noted that tourism is an important sector with its contribution within a year alone at RM80 billion for international visitors and RM30 billion for domestic visitors. Currently, more than 80% of visitors are from the Johor-Singapore border, he said.
“I was told that almost 50 airlines have already started visiting KLIA and it is a good sign, there may be more to arrive in the near future from almost all over the world.
“Currently, the number of visitors to Malaysia has reached 250,000 — still low on target, (we) cannot expect a rapid increase in the two weeks since the opening of the country’s border as it will take some time.”
Muhyiddin also met up with the operators and traders of restaurants, shops and suppliers, as well as consumers who are at KLIA and was informed that they have no problem and have been able to resume operations immediately — the only arising issue is regarding the cigarette tax rate allegedly raised by the government, which he was requested to bring the issue to the Ministry of Finance.
In terms of the expectation of seamless standard operating procedures for international visitors, Muhyiddin will be holding a meeting with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to see what more efforts can be done in the face of the border reopening.