KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government would look into resuming interstate travel across the country to help boost its domestic tourism sector.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri said this in the parliament on Monday (Sep 20) while answering a supplementary question from Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman on the government’s plan to introduce more travel bubbles.
“For the information of everyone seated in this House, hotels or destinations, both on islands and mainland, are allowed to open and operate their facilities, but only for visitors living within the same state,” said Mdm Nancy.
“Despite that, God willing, we are discussing over the next two or three days to permit interstate travel. When this is allowed, residents living outside can come in,” she added.
Mdm Nancy added that this would allow people to visit popular destinations such as Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands and Fraser’s Hill.
“Tourism is all about mobility. When people are allowed to move, our economy can grow,” said Mdm Nancy, adding that opening up tourism again would help those in the sector whose livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19.
Last Thursday, Langkawi in Kedah reopened to local tourists in the country’s first domestic travel bubble. This came months after an interstate travel ban was imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Tourism operators including airlines and hotels have reported strong reception from visitors on the first day of the bubble.
Mdm Nancy said the government has plans to open Langkawi to international tourists.
In response to a question by Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai on the government’s plans to allow international tourists to visit the country, the minister said that Langkawi’s geographical location isolated from the mainland, and the fact that it already has an international airport, make it an ideal choice for a pilot project.
“Yes, I agree that we would not be able to sustain with just domestic tourism. Hence, once we have outlined the criteria to allow for international tourists to come, Langkawi will again be used as a pilot project for this,” said Mdm Nancy.
“We will have an international travel bubble for Langkawi,” she added.
Mdm Nancy said that international tourists who arrive in Langkawi must be fully vaccinated, other than fulfilling other criteria which have yet to be finalised.