KUCHING, October 12 – Many travel and travel agency operators are excited about the government’s decision to lift the ban on interstate travel.
In this regard, they expect an influx of visitors to Sarawak, especially those from West Malaysia and Sabah.
Malaysian Association of Travel and Travel Agencies (Matta) Sarawak branch vice president Oscar Choo said visitors to West Malaysia enjoy visiting places in the state, especially Kuching, adding that the state is like a getaway for them.
“Just like Langkawi right now, tourism is booming and we anticipate an influx of West Malaysians into Sarawak.
“However, there must be enough flights to meet demand,” he told Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.
In an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 among travelers as well as agency staff, Choo said every member of the tourism industry must strictly adhere to standard operating procedure (SOP) for reopening. of the tourism sector issued by the State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Choo, who is also director of operations for CPH Travel, added that visitors entering the state must also comply with SOP requirements before entering Sarawak, such as completing their vaccinations.
“As a responsible travel agent, I should also be ensuring (the safety) of our team – our guides, drivers and other assets, as any of them may be in contact with the virus.
“We will also have to shut down our business for a few days if any of our staff is found to be positive,” he added.
Cat City Holidays Managing Director Mok Venia called the lifting of the interstate travel ban “a very good sign” as it will benefit tourism players such as travel agencies, hotels, transport. in common, souvenir and craft shops.
Like Choo, Mok also said there would be more West Malaysians entering the state and the same would apply to people from Sarawak visiting West Malaysia.
“People here will also go (to West Malaysia) because they watched videos on social media (about tourist attractions there). It would therefore also be wise for West Malaysians to make interstate trips and certainly come to visit us as well, ”she added.
Mok also said his company would also respect existing SOPs given by the federal government as well as the state government.
Association of Sarawak Inbound Agencies (Asia) secretary Chua Juan Chuan, who is also director of Paradesa Borneo, said he was looking forward to receiving visitors from other states.
However, he felt that the procedures for travelers to enter Sarawak as required by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) are “an obstacle” for travelers, adding that this is not in line with the relaxation of its policy by the federal government.
“This is a bit of a problem, especially for tourists who come for leisure and not for business, because with the EnterSarawak system not working very well, visitors have to spend over RM100 to get their tests ( RT-PCR negative). .
“These requirements will be a big obstacle for visitors from West Malaysia as well as Sabah,” he added.
Chua’s comments on Sarawak entry requirements were shared earlier by Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who questioned the need for SDMC to require those traveling to the state to continue to apply for permission through EnterSarawak.
Abdul Karim said it should be enough for visitors to prove that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and that any further restrictions would be a barrier to tourism.
With the interstate travel ban lifted, Chua said coming to Sarawak feels more like a “homecoming” event for travelers, as they will likely be visiting loved ones in the state, even in those who only travel for professional reasons.
However, he said visitors will not be made up of people coming to the state for recreation due to strict entry requirements imposed by SDMC.
The SDMC in its daily Sunday update announced that fully vaccinated people can enter Sarawak without a police permit from yesterday.
The statement was made following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s previous announcement on the lifting of the interstate travel ban.
However, SDMC said those entering the state must still apply for entry through EnterSarawak, submit proof of full immunization status, provide a negative RT-PCR or Antigen test result from health clinics or clinics. laboratories within three days of travel. , as well as other related personal data. – Borneo Post Online