The tourism industry has praised the simplified SOPs for foreign visitors entering the nation beginning next month, claiming that the measure will re-energize the sector.
From May 1, vaccinated travelers will be able to enter the country without having to undergo Covid-19 testing, according to the authorities. It further said that insurance coverage for such travelers would no longer be required.
As the worst of Covid-19 appeared to be passed, Tan Kok Liang, president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta), stated the government's approach was following current worldwide best practices.
Despite the reopening of borders, he continued, the SOPs imposed on travelers, including pre-departure and post-arrival testing and other steps, have prevented many foreigners from visiting Malaysia.
"The cumbersome SOPs is one of the reasons we aren't seeing many tourists coming in." They are concerned that if they test positive for Covid-19, they would face further expenses.
"The latest step would attract more foreign tourists," he told FMT, "similar to procedures in Europe, India, Singapore, and Australia."
Because most countries are going paperless, Tan said having foreign travelers fill out travel cards on arrival via MySejahtera was an appropriate method.
The loosening of SOPs, according to Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) board member Eugene Dass, will help to revitalize the country's tourism and hospitality industries.
With Covid-19 instances on the decline, he believes the country is on the right route to welcoming back tourists and boosting the local economy.
"However, we stay watchful because hotel guests are supposed to remain masked for their safety," the MAH chapter chairman for Kedah and Perlis told FMT.
Although the borders reopened on April 1, Malaysian Budget Hotel Association president Emmy Suraya Hussein indicated that only a few foreigners had entered the country.
She claimed that the lengthy list of SOPs, which included testing before departure and after arrival, was a major reason why visitors avoided Malaysia in favor of neighboring countries with more lenient entry requirements.
"With the relaxation, we hope to see an increase in tourist numbers," she said.
According to Uzaidi Udanis, president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, the tourism industry can stay competitive in the future if the government continues to support it with fuel subsidies.
While other countries have extended their borders and simplified entrance requirements, he noted, inflation had affected them as well.
"The status quo on government aid and subsidies should continue," he stated, "for us to remain competitive in the global travel industry."
According to Zaidi, bugs in the MySejahtera app must be corrected as well, as some travelers were unable to download the app in their home countries.
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