KUALA LUMPUR: The vaccination process for Langkawi residents will be enhanced to achieve 80 percent herd immunity, thus realising the plan to make the island the pilot destination for the Covid-19 Free Destination Programme.

In a statement, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) said the proposal was agreed upon in the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) meeting, in line with the three phases of the Tourism Recovery Plan outlined by the ministry.

The statement also quoted Motac Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri as saying that Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had given the assurance that the vaccine supply would arrive in Langkawi next week and be sufficient to achieve the 80 percent herd immunity target.

“I would like to thank Khairy Jamaluddin for realising the Covid-19 Free Destination Programme in Langkawi as a pilot project and subsequently, this effort will be expanded to other tourism destinations in the country, namely Penang, Pahang, Johor, Melaka and Sabah in stages as a green travel bubble,” she said.

To date, about 76,400 people out of the 111,500 total population in Langkawi are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to a report released by the Kedah CITF, as of July 12, the total number of Langkawi residents who have registered for vaccination was 61,313 people, of which 27,362 individuals have received their first dose of the vaccine while 20,465 individuals completed both doses.

“This means that only 30 percent of the registered population have received the complete doses. This figure is still low. That is why we want to ensure the efforts made can help speed up the vaccination rate for the people on the island,” said Nancy.

According to the statement, a new integrated vaccination centre was also launched today at the Langkawi International Convention Centre which aimed to inoculate 3,000 people daily.

Elaborating, Nancy said the selection of the pilot travel destination was necessary to give confidence to the community on the safety of the country’s tourism destinations with Langkawi being selected as a testing ground.

The effort is to revive the tourism industry which has long been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It kicks off in Langkawi as it is an ‘isolated area’ which will facilitate monitoring efforts.

She said the selected pilot destinations had their own strengths such as regional and international airline networks, as well as having a variety of accommodation facilities for various tourist segments.

Meanwhile, Nancy was optimistic that the tourism and culture sector could be revived by November or earlier according to Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan, if the people continue to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and there is improvement in the current Covid-19 situation.

She also urged all people, especially residents of Langkawi, to always adhere to the stipulated SOPs and turn up for their vaccination appointments so that the target of 80 percent herd immunity on the island could be achieved, thus allowing the island to return to being a major tourist destination in Malaysia.

“Let us together contribute efforts to address this pandemic more effectively so that we can get out of this crisis. Through these efforts, we hope that the main economic activity, namely tourism in Langkawi can continue to run as usual to protect the people’s welfare and regenerate their income,” she added. — Bernama