Reopen northern border to boost tourism and business, govt urged

By TIN Media | Asean News Published 7 months ago on 16 February 2022
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With the Thai government planning to reopen its Malaysia-Thailand borders next month, some stakeholders here are urging the Malaysian government to do likewise to boost tourism and business activities.

Changlun Bukit Kayu Hitam Taxi Association vice-president Mohd Zainuddin Makul said taxi drivers here were relying on local passengers for now.

“The Malaysian government should reopen its border to international tourists, especially those who wish to enter via our northern entrance.

“It can have multiple effects on the local economy, with tourists coming from Thailand or local tourists from the south passing through here before entering Thailand.

“I see it as a positive development as it would boost the local economy along the border. It would be good news for taxi drivers too,” he said.
In March 2020, Thailand closed nine checkpoints with Malaysia to curb the spread of Covid-19.

With Malaysians being the largest group of visitors to Thailand before the pandemic, the Thai government plans to reopen its southern border next month to boost tourist arrivals.

It was reported that the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and Tourism Emergency Operation Centre had been ordered to prepare pandemic mitigation measures for the reopening of the southern provinces of Songkhla, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun.

Under the plan, tourists from Malaysia will be able to enter Thailand via the quarantine-free Test & Go programme.

However, travellers have to pass two RT-PCR Covid-19 tests – one upon arrival and the second on day five of their visit.

Under the programme, travellers have to apply for a Thailand Pass before entering the kingdom.

They also need to purchase a medical insurance with minimum coverage of US$50,000 (RM209,000) and do a RT-PCR Covid-19 test 72 hours before travelling.
Federation of Malay Hawkers and Small Traders Association (Gapema) Kedah chapter president Baharudin Mohamad Ali said the Malaysian government should do likewise for its Thai counterpart by allowing international travellers to enter via the border.

“Reopening the border has to be a two-way approach. Reopening the border from our side will be an extra boost for the locals,” he said.
But Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall president Datuk Cheng Lai Hock said the Malaysian government should think twice before reopening the border.
“This is not the best time for Malaysians to travel to Thailand as the Omicron wave has just started.

“Although we will enter the endemic phase eventually, we still have to be careful for now,” he said.

Cheng said the government should also impose strict quarantine measures for Malaysians returning from Thailand to keep Covid-19 in check.


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