KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Sabah will allow visitors who have been fully vaccinated to enter the state without having to undergo COVID-19 screening, beginning Dec 1, said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

He said this was decided as the state is already in Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan.

“Tourists from the peninsula or anywhere, who come to Sabah from Dec 1 need not undergo the swab test as long as as they are fully vaccinated,” he told the media after the launch of the Matta Fair Exhibition here today. 

Hajiji said the state was ready to receive visitors by offering special and attractive tourist destinations, adding that tourism sector could be revived with strict adherence to standard operating procedures.

Meanwhile, Hajiji said Sabah was fully prepared for international arrivals as soon as Malaysia reopens its borders next year.

“By Nov 2021, there are already 266 weekly direct flights into Sabah from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kota Bharu, Labuan, and Sarawak, with a total capacity of 43,000 seats.

“Within Sabah, there are 123 weekly flights with a total capacity of 16,720 seats connecting Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, and Tawau,” he said in his speech.

Also present were Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Jafry Ariffin, Sabah Special Tasks Minister, Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif and MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Leong.

He added that the state government had implemented the Sabah Tourism Recovery Plan for domestic and international segments to improve tourism promotion, including market shifting during the pandemic.

The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has also collaborated with tourism industry players to hold virtual engagements, travel expos, promotions, and training on destination updates.

“This includes re-establishing trade and tourist confidence through business to business (B2B) and government to government (G2G), with several countries including China, Korea, Norway, Indonesia, Brunei, India, Dubai, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

“The STB is also working with airlines and assisting them in re-establishing direct flights for domestic and international travel,” he said.

Hajiji added that the return of the MATTA Fair was significant as it signified the beginning of the recovery phase for the tourism industry after the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years.


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