Informa Markets, an industry travel trade event organizer, urged the Government to reopen the borders for business travelers from countries that managed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The implementation of the "travel bubble" for international business travelers will help to boost the Malaysian economy, according to its ASEAN Group Managing Director M Gandhi.
He said that the economy in Malaysia increased moderately to 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 4.5 percent during the same quarter of the previous year, as the pandemic and the resultant effects of a movement control order (MCO) affected the country's gross domestic product.
“The earlier we can bring international trade back into Malaysia, the faster we will recover,” he told.
The term “travel bubble” or “travel corridor” refers to an agreement whereby countries that have successfully contained the COVID-19 pandemic can open their borders to each other to allow free movement within the “bubble”.
He said that firstly, the "travel bubble," with a similar number of daily new cases, should be restricted to South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Hong-Kong, and Vietnam.
“This travel bubble could kickstart the trade economy gradually, but strict standard operating procedures (SOP) must be observed.
“Business travelers must ensure that they take a (COVID-19) test before entering Malaysia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that the government had received the "travel bubble" proposal with neighboring countries but did not finalize its decision on the issue.
That is because before the decision can be taken there are many things to be considered.
In recent years, Malaysia 's business events industry has been growing stronger, according to the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS).
In 2019, a total of 1,025 business events were organized, which attracted over 540,000 international business travellers to Malaysia.
These events contributed RM3.9 billion in direct expenditure to the country and generated RM9.2 billion in economic impact, MACEOS said.
The government has approved in principle the SOP for the resumption of businesses in tourism sub-sectors.
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said this includes the meeting, incentives, convention, and exhibitions (MICE) industry as well as trade and travel fests within the country.
Gandhi said as an event organizer, Informa Markets is ready to start by focusing on domestic buyers and sellers only.
“However, as we said, these domestic buyers will have limited sources in helping to boost economic growth, therefore we need international buyers to come so that our economy can quickly recover,” he added.
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