Domestic tourism boost expected

PETALING JAYA: Domestic tourism players are looking forward to a pick-up in business now that travel between states under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) has been restored.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis told theSun that this is good news for the tourism industry.

“Ever since travel between RMCO states was allowed, Putrajaya has seen a lot of its residents going to other RMCO states such as Malacca and Pahang,” he said.

However, there are conditions attached. Travellers must take only vehicles registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac).

Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that travel must be organised by government-registered tour agencies, which must also obtain prior approval from the police.

Uzaidi said that by having tourists travelling only in Motac-registered vehicles, the risk of Covid-19 spreading diminishes as all
holiday-goers will be required to go through health and safety checks beforehand.

“Vans, cars and buses that are registered under Motac can be put to use. Although the choices are limited, it is simpler and safer to organise the people who are travelling.”

Despite the fact that the vast majority of domestic travellers live in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang, the states that are under the conditional movement control order, Uzaidi thinks this is a good move as it will aid the economy as Malaysia’s tourism industry is the third largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product.

However, Uzaidi hopes all interstate travel will be permitted soon, as well as the opening of Malaysia’s international borders.

“Looking at countries such as the United Arab Emirates, which has opened its borders to international tourists, shows that Malaysia can also reopen its international borders.”

He suggested that if Malaysia does not follow suit, the country will miss out on opportunities to welcome international visitors.

“The tourism industry has been badly affected. A lot of people within the industry have lost their jobs.”

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said that allowing travel between RMCO states is a big step forward for the tourism industry.

“Although its implementation is still limited and responsibility is placed on travel agencies and operators, it is a significant indication that the government has taken the views of the industry ahead of scheduled restrictions, and is closer towards the full reopening of interstate travel,” said MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng.

However, Yap said that MAH is proposing for the government to also allow travel between RMCO states via flights for tourists who have confirmed hotel bookings.