PETALING JAYA,Dec 7: Tourism industry stakeholders have welcomed the government’s decision to lift restrictions on inter-district and inter-state travel but said it must be supported with clear travel guidelines and SOPs.
Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said guidelines were needed for travel assurance and to build confidence because many were still afraid to travel without repercussions of failure to observe the SOPs.
“We hope for similar market reactions as the initial recovery movement control order (RMCO) back in June, that had driven up domestic tourism, but the current situation is not as favourable as then.
“The industry, however, is hoping that it would encourage people to travel safely,” he told FMT.
Jimmy Leong, president of the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council, said the flexibility to engage in leisure and travel activities would definitely benefit the tourism industry but only to an extent.
“The food and beverages sector, accommodation outlets and operators will at least see some form of revenue forthcoming,” he said.
On Saturday, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysians throughout the country would be allowed to travel inter-district and interstate beginning Monday (Dec 7). He also announced that the three-per-vehicle rule would be lifted.
Further, he said the National Security Council would discuss with the tourism ministry and provide a “positive list” of activities allowed to take place soon. He said this would likely include outdoor activities, such as going to the zoo.
Asked which tourism activities should be included in the list, Yap said essential travels or business or even corporate events that would help support recovery for the tourism industry, especially hotels.
“We have long requested for reinstatement of business events as well as ancillary facilities in hotels, with necessary SOPs in place. Events can be held in a controlled environment for added assurance of safety and health,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis predicted that many city dwellers would see the decision as an opportunity to go back to their hometowns (balik kampung).
“Eco-tourism activities such as water rafting and hiking should be included in the list as well,” he added.