KUALA LUMPUR, March 8– The ongoing COVID-19 immunisation programme has given confidence and hope toward reopening the country’s borders so that the gloomy tourism industry can begin the recovery process, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
She said there were several countries in the world whose citizens had been vaccinated, expressing readiness to receive tourists from other countries whose citizen had also been vaccinated.
Malaysia could also implement the similar steps by reopening the country’s borders to others once the country’s vaccination exercise completed, she said.
“With the availability of vaccines, we are confident as those countries that already have the vaccines, they show a willingness to open their space to others… we can also implement the similar step by opening our space.
“Currently, vaccination exercise has just started … it is hoped that it will be an opportunity for us to reopen the economy to foreign countries,” she said.
She said this in the ‘One-year Malaysia Prihatin – National Tourism, Arts and Culture Sector’ segment in ‘Selamat Pagi Malaysia’ programme broadcast live from RTM Kuching, Sarawak today.
Nancy said at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC)’s technical working stage, there had been discussions with other ministries on how they planned to open the country’s borders to the nearest neighbours.
This includes creating a reciprocal green lane (RGL) travel bubble initiative with nearby countries including Singapore and Brunei to encourage tourist movements.
“The tourism industry depends on the movement of people, if the movement is restricted, people cannot move… so this is something we must pay attention to for the survival of this industry,” she said.
Meanwhile, on the One-Year Malaysia Prihatin, she said although Malaysia faced challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country managed to produce and dig out more local crafts and arts entrepreneurs.
Through the introduction of ‘smart tourism’ or sustainable tourism, such as E-Craft Bazaar and the Craft On the Go application, it can help local craft entrepreneurs to recover after being badly hit by the pandemic.
Apart from that, Malaysia also intends to brand itself as the ‘ World’s Top of Mind Ecotourism Destination’ so that when people think about ecotourism, Malaysia will be the first country that comes to mind.