Malaysia tourism bubble can help travel industry

Published on : Saturday, August 21, 2021

The travel landscape in Malaysia has to be opened one way or another – and a tourism bubble is the kind of stepping stone the embattled industry needs right now. Tourism industry players Malaysia say an initiative like that would provide a light at the end of the tunnel for operators that have struggled to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said that it should provide a lifeline to the industry as it can no longer sustain purely on government subsidies. While it is not expected to generate much in the beginning, it needs to be able to provide sufficient motivation for the industry to restart.

Yap’ Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng’s comments came following the government’s proposal of turning Langkawi into a pilot project for the tourism bubble, once the island has reached 80% vaccination rate for its population.

Travellers allowed to visit Langkawi will be limited to individuals who have completed their vaccination.
It is, however, important to note that tourism bubbles are not without its faults, says Yap.

“We have learnt from other similar initiatives such as the Phuket Sandbox (in Thailand), and it is crucial to understand that the initiative is not meant to be foolproof – it is not meant to be perfect.

“It will not guarantee zero Covid-19 cases (whether in or out), but what it is, instead, is an exit plan to live with Covid-19, having understood that it will not go away,” he explains.

While Covid-19 cases are unavoidable at this point, travel operators can do their part to contain cases under a tourism bubble programme.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang says tourism bubble initiatives must be facilitated by tour operators to minimise any risk of a virus outbreak.

“To minimise infection, the travel plan must be a controlled itinerary through a tour operator who can ensure strict adherence to the SOP in transportation, and cruises.

“There must be proper enforcement and no unnecessary contact with the local community,” he says.

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