Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) has announced plans to reopen the country’s tourism sector in three phases. Working alongside the National Security Council (NSC), MOTAC calls this fast-track initiative for the tourism sector the Covid-19 Free Destination Programme.
The first phase will open up so-called ‘pilot destinations’, as part of the new programme; a target of 80% immunity will be applied to various tourism hotspots through accelerated vaccination efforts and extra control measures, allowing them to reopen more quickly than other locations. Langkawi and Kuching will be the first to open under this programme.
For the second phase, this approach will be extended to several other popular resort islands, including Pangkor, Perhentian Redang and Tioman. In addition, several main attractions will open for business in Johor, Melaka, Penang and Sabah. The third phase way repeat this process in various other destinations nationwide.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Nancy Shukri made an official visit to Pangkor island this week, to inspect the vaccination programme, which started on 16 July. Running three days a week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for eight consecutive weeks, it aims to vaccinate at least 540 people per day.
“Based on the records of the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) in Manjung District, the first dose is expected to be completed on 8 August, followed by the second dose on 13 August 2021,” explained the minister during her visit. “Hence, it is estimated that Pangkor Island will achieve its herd immunity in early September,” she added.
MOTAC is working alongside CITF to speed up vaccinations in key locations, through the country’s network of public vaccination centres (PPV). To help get these destinations ready for reopening, tourism frontliners are being prioritised in the vaccination programme.
The ministry has also identified other travel destinations, such as Kota Kinabalu, Desaru Coast, Penang, Pulau Perhentian, Melaka, Genting Highlands and Pulau Tioman as areas that could implement the programme.
In addition to the plans for tourism reopening, restrictions are being carefully lifted across Malaysia, to allow greater freedom of movement. According to the latest information, the country will be split into four tiers – each with different levels of travel permitted. Tier 1 will allow intra-district travel and tourism activities within the district; Tier 2 will permit inter-district travel and tourism; Tier 3 will allow inter-state travel and tourism; and Tier 4, most importantly, will allow international travel and inbound tourists.