The Ministry of Health is currently taking extra steps to defend Malaysia against transmission of the emergent Omicron variant, with a combination of extra booster dose coverage and the implementation of TRIIS (test, report, isolate, inform and seek) protocols. This is combined with heightened personal safety measures, including the mandatory wearing of masks and tightened controls at international entry points.
Although precautions are currently being taken, quarantine-free arrivals remain the target. A recent report from Oxford Economics’ lead Asia economist, Sian Fenner, confirmed that Malaysia, together with Australia and New Zealand, are the world’s best-placed nations for reopening. This is due to their progress in Covid-19 vaccinations, combined with low case numbers and relatively large tourism sectors.
On 4 January, Sarawak officially entered Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), according to the State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN). This means the state has been confirmed safe and ready to welcome back international arrivals.
On 9 January, Malaysia’s Health Director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed the country has been ranked sixth in the global Covid-19 recovery index; an indication of the country’s success in responding to the pandemic and a positive sign for the immediate future of its tourism sector.
Malaysia’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) involves reopening the tourism sector in three stages. as The first stage involves ‘pilot destinations’, including Langkawi and Kuching. This approach will then be steadily scaled up and extended nationwide. Designated Phase 4 locations will be allowed to welcome back international travel and inbound tourists.
In December, travellers from several countries were temporarily barred from taking part in the Langkawi international travel bubble programme, in response to the global spread of the Omicron variant. These countries included the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Nigeria, Belgium, Japan, Brazil, Norway, the Czech Republic, France (including Reunion Island), Austria, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Ireland, the UAE and the state of California in the United States. Anyone who has travelled to any of these locations in the 14 days prior to departure will not be granted entry to Malaysia.
This group of countries are referred to as the First Schedule. Other nations or territories under the Second Schedule, which are countries deemed to be at high risk of the Omicron variant but are yet to report any cases, are Russia, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, North Macedonia, Guernsey, Croatia, French Guiana, the Philippines, Libya, Jordan, Bangladesh, Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Travellers from Second Schedule countries are also barred from the Langkawi international travel bubble programme until further notice.
Malaysia’s Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah released a statement last month, confirming that residents of Langkawi, involving both Malaysians and those with long-term visit pass, from these countries and with history of travelling to these countries within 14 days, can only enter via KL International Airport. “They are also required to undergo 14 days quarantine at the set centres before being allowed to continue with their journey to Langkawi. Direct flights to Langkawi are not allowed,” said the director-general.
Despite these recent setbacks, Malaysia is making excellent progress in its recovery from Covid-19 and has made great strides forward in recent weeks. Cases of Covid-19 in Malaysia are in decline, as the country moves closer to reaching the endemic phase, while mass vaccination programmes are also nearing completion. As of 3 January, more than 57.8 million doses have been administered, with 25.6 million people (78.5% of the population) fully vaccinated – this comprises around 97% of adults and 80% of adolescents (Malaysia has one of the fastest rates of teenager inoculation in the world).
The Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), along with various other key partners, such as the Malaysian Hotel Association and the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers, continue to work alongside the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) to implement and monitor tourism’s revival post-lockdown. At present, the signs are certainly encouraging.
Panorama Destination Malaysia News:
We are using the hiatus offered to us by the global pandemic to prepare a range of new products, tours and services with a clear emphasis on safe and sustainable travel. Our new products will provide clients with clean, green travel to some of Malaysia’s most beautiful natural locations and traditional cultural highlights. Connecting green zones together, these tours will turn travel bubble discoveries into something truly memorable.
To ensure the safety of clients when they return, Panorama Destination has introduced a dedicated set of health and safety protocols, based on a company-wide Covid-19 policy. We have also achieved safety certification from internationally recognised organizations, and are a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council ‘Safe Travels’ campaign.
Last year, Panorama Destination Malaysia achieved Travelife Partner status. This internationally recognised certification enables us to provide products and services that are more deeply rooted in sustainability; providing travel experiences that positively impact the environment and communities where we operate.
Panorama Destination works alongside Government and other DMCs in Malaysia, to ensure safe and standardised services for returning visitors. We continue to provide the latest breaking news regarding Covid-19 and its impact on tourism via our social media channels: