[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 2 ] The industry hopes the government and ASEAN to discuss, Establish more VTLs, Harmonize the cross-border tourism policies of various countries.

By Lim Ann Gee (Oriental Daily News)

In an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak across borders, Malaysia shuttered its international borders for nearly two years. The only exceptions are the Langkawi International Travel Bubble, which was only opened to foreign tourists in the second half of 2021, and the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore.

These measures were not enough for Malaysian tourism companies who rely on foreign tourists, let alone tourism companies that have suffered through this two-year slump. To them, the domestic tourism industry can only fully recover when the borders are reopened.

Oriental Daily interviewed several representatives of the tourism sector who are hoping that the government will create more policies that will reset and revitalize the tourism industry.

In an interview with Oriental Daily, Malindo Air CEO Captain Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri said that the current obstacles in the way on the road to national recovery are the closure of the national borders and the different quarantine testing and vaccination requirements of various countries.

“We are calling on ASEAN countries to come to an agreement on travel documents, testing requirements, testing methods, vaccines, and length of the quarantine period.”

He hopes that such an agreement will expedite the reopening of borders and once again allow the aviation industry to start flying again and once again connect ASEAN nations.

馬印航空首席執行員慕斯沙菲益

“The Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore is an encouraging initiative. Hopefully, we will be able to continue working with countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and our other neighbors in ASEAN.”

He said that recovery must be based on the distance at this point in time and more emphasis needs to be placed on discussions with ASEAN nations.

He believes that countries should accept tourists who wish to enter and have been vaccinated. It is only when people can once again move around without restriction can the tourism industry regain its momentum on the road to recovery.

Airplane
 
Full recovery needs a strong leadership from MOTAC

Mint Leong, deputy president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) must take the lead in the recovery of the tourism industry since a lot of communication and policymaking across departments and agencies have to be involved.

She emphasized that the full recovery of the tourism industry requires MOTAC to take a strong leadership role, to be responsible for communication and connection between various departments after taking into consideration the suggestions and concerns from industry leaders.

“The policy has to start with the government. If the government does not allow Malaysians to travel abroad and foreign tourists to enter, the travel agencies will be doomed.”

大馬入境旅遊協會署理主席梁偉虹

She is hoping that the government can negotiate with ASEAN countries to open up more travel bubbles and flights and to make plans in advance to select suitable locations for travel bubbles and target traveler groups.

“We hope that the travel bubble in Langkawi can be extended to other places, quarantine should be reduced from 7 to 5 days. This safer environment will be able to help inbound tourism operators bring more customers in.”

She suggested that Malaysia should refer to the tourism policies of some other countries in this pandemic such as countries with more travel freedom like those in Europe and America to then craft a suitable model for Malaysia’s tourism industry.

An ASEAN travel visa has been proposed to allow for travel between 10 countries

On the other hand, Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said that the association has repeatedly suggested that the ASEAN Tourism Association introduce a single visa for ASEAN countries in order to attract more foreign tourists.

He explained that tourists holding this visa should be allowed unimpeded travel to the 10 ASEAN countries without having to apply for separate visas, thus allowing more tourists to visit more ASEAN countries and spend more time here.

He said that this strategy is similar to the one adopted in European countries and can be an excellent strategy for the Malaysian tourism industry which has been highly dependent on foreign tourists and their high spending power.

大馬酒店業協會首席執行員葉立聖

He pointed out that ASEAN can take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to conduct a major reset of the tourism industry and to restart in concerted marketing between ASEAN nations to present itself as a destination as a whole.

He also said that ASEAN as a whole is a very competitive tourist destination because of the wide variety of attractions, cultures, and natures that are competitive with other travel destinations.

He pointed out that ASEAN member nations can work together to promote tourism in ASEAN through a clever marketing slogan being “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” when promoting and encouraging tourism in their respective countries.

He believes that as long as the 10 ASEAN countries can commit to this it will bring an influx of a large number of tourists and eventually benefit all ASEAN member nations.

In addition, Yap also said that Malaysia is very dependent on tourists from within ASEAN itself, especially from Singapore.

“70% of our tourists are from ASEAN and almost half of them are from Singapore.”

He said that tourists from Singapore are not particularly helpful to the Malaysian hotel industry as they prefer to stay with their relatives and friends in their homes instead.

He believes that Malaysia needs to revamp its strategy in order to reduce its reliance on Singaporean tourists and instead, look towards expanding to attract tourists from other key markets such as China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

This article is a report produced under the Southeast Asia Forum for Reporting (SEAFORE), supported by Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR).

Pushed From National Parks, Forest-Dwellers Defend Land and Customs
08 Apr 2022

Pushed From National Parks, Forest-Dwellers Defend Land and Customs

Trapped in shelters: Domestic workers’ dilemma
25 Mar 2022

Trapped in shelters: Domestic workers’ dilemma

The Women Tree Planters of Sukau
25 Mar 2022

The Women Tree Planters of Sukau

Benefits and Challenges for International Tourists visiting Dili, Timor-Leste
21 Mar 2022

Benefits and Challenges for International Tourists visiting Dili, Timor-Leste

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 3 ] Be prepared and take measures to deal with the new waves of pandemics, Minister of Tourism hopes that gradual reopening of borders
21 Mar 2022

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 3 ] Be prepared and take measures to deal with the new waves of pandemics, Minister of Tourism hopes that gradual reopening of borders

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 1 ] Uncertainty of pandemic hits Malaysia’s tourism recovery, difficult to sustain without opening up for international tourists
18 Mar 2022

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 1 ] Uncertainty of pandemic hits Malaysia’s tourism recovery, difficult to sustain without opening up for international tourists

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 2 ] The industry hopes the government and ASEAN to discuss, Establish more VTLs, Harmonize the cross-border tourism policies of various countries.
18 Mar 2022

[ Road to Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery Series 2 ] The industry hopes the government and ASEAN to discuss, Establish more VTLs, Harmonize the cross-border tourism policies of various countries.

Sabah Community Aims To Regrow Healthy Forests Amid Pandemic
17 Mar 2022

Sabah Community Aims To Regrow Healthy Forests Amid Pandemic

In The Fight for Malaysian Forest, Can Malaysian Activists Replicate A Win?
17 Mar 2022

In The Fight for Malaysian Forest, Can Malaysian Activists Replicate A Win?

Khmer performers emerge from the pandemic with renewed purpose
17 Mar 2022

Khmer performers emerge from the pandemic with renewed purpose

As Cambodia Is Set to Welcome Vaccinated Tourists, Challenges Lie Ahead
17 Mar 2022

As Cambodia Is Set to Welcome Vaccinated Tourists, Challenges Lie Ahead

Under-Protected Abroad, Domestic Workers Find Ways to Resist
17 Mar 2022

Under-Protected Abroad, Domestic Workers Find Ways to Resist

Bounded Amidst Restrictions (Kepepet di Tengah Pengetatan)
17 Mar 2022

Bounded Amidst Restrictions (Kepepet di Tengah Pengetatan)

Philippines, 4 other Asean member-states urged to form coalition in South China Sea
16 Mar 2022

Philippines, 4 other Asean member-states urged to form coalition in South China Sea

The Slow Death of Sungai Langat
11 Aug 2021

The Slow Death of Sungai Langat

Understanding Malaysia’s Affordable Housing Crisis
03 Aug 2021

Understanding Malaysia’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Dead in the Water: Resorts, Sewage & the Underside of Malaysian Tourism
09 Jul 2021

Dead in the Water: Resorts, Sewage & the Underside of Malaysian Tourism

Air dan Selangor: Ada masalah ke?
02 Jul 2021

Air dan Selangor: Ada masalah ke?

Connecting The Dots: One man’s effort in making sense of Malaysia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout
02 Jul 2021

Connecting The Dots: One man’s effort in making sense of Malaysia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Why Aren’t There More Women in Malaysian Sports?
09 Jun 2021

Why Aren’t There More Women in Malaysian Sports?

Leave a Reply