Malaysia’s PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced at a special address on 10 October that interstate travel would be allowed from Oct 11 for those fully vaccinated as the country had reached its target to have 90% of the adult population fully vaccinated. Those fully vaccinated are allowed to travel overseas but will undergo mandatory quarantine upon return.
In addition, the Travel Safe Alliance (TSA) Malaysia was also launched on the same day. The signing of the MOU at The Danna Langkawi was among the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) and Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG — comprising Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASwings).
Signatories to the MOU were MATTA president, Tan Kok Liang; MAH president, N.Subramaniam; MACEOS president, Francis Teo; and Captain Izham Ismail, MAG Group CEO. The event was witnessed by Nancy Shukri, Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia Minister, who also launched the TSA.
The TSA is backed by certifications from an external party, Bureau Veritas Certification Malaysia (based on standards set by the WHO and enhanced for the country), which Tan noted gives travellers, both domestic and international, the confidence of a complete ecosystem of safe travel solutions backed by the “Travel Safe” label for travel and tour arrangements; “Clean & Safe Malaysia” label for hotels; and “SafeBE” for Business Events and convention venues.
Malaysia Airlines with its Fly Confidently campaign and its recent seven‐star rating for its Covid‐19 safety and health measures from Airlines Ratings adds to that mix.
Laying the foundation for a safe reopening
Subramaniam noted that MAH was the first in the industry to introduce this independent certification in July last year and to date 130 hotels of their 900 members have signed up so far. MATTA has 2001 members while MACEOS has 180, but no numbers were given for how many have been certified.
Teo of MACEOS said this certification will help them gain the trust and confidence of both domestic and international clients and investors and help them to decide to choose Malaysia for their next international conference, convention or exhibition.
According to Tan, the TSA has already engaged with key destination partners that include Sabah, Penang and Johor.
“We are also working very closely with our Singapore Safe Alliance counterparts on proposals based on our safety standards on how we can quickly work with our respective governments to re‐open reciprocal travel arrangements between our two countries beginning with travel bubbles like Langkawi and business events in Singapore,” he added.
With the Langkawi bubble having surpassed the target of 30,000 visitors and most likely at 60,000 now, according to Nancy, valuable insights were provided on how to open up more areas in anticipation of a possible opening to international visitors by year-end.
Despite competition from other countries, Captain Izham shared that he is confident international visitors would flock back to the country.
He said that according to a survey, there is an 85% pent-up demand from travellers in the ASEAN region to visit Malaysia. He also announced that return flights on Malaysia Airlines between Langkawi and Singapore would now be increased to three times weekly.