Tan Kok Liang
KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism sector stakeholders applauded the Sabah State Government’s decision to lift the required Covid-19 tests for fully vaccinated visitors to Sabah.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the announcement was timely especially during the MATTA Fair period as it would create enthusiasm for tour operators to market Sabah as a prime destination.
“Surely, both business and leisure travellers will definitely welcome this. It is very good for tourism and it will create a spin-off effect, with hotels, the transportation sector, and the restaurants all filling up.
“The Sabah Chief Minister has been very proactive and he sees the necessity to really move the tourism sector and boost up the arrival (of tourists),” he said when met at the 49th MATTA Fair held at the World Trade Centre, here.
Earlier today, Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor announced Sabah will allow fully vaccinated visitors to enter the state without the need to do a swab test starting December 1 and that Sabah is fully prepared to welcome international arrivals as soon as Malaysia reopens its borders next year.
Hajiji said this when officiating the much-awaited travel fair, which runs until Nov 21.
Also present were Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister, Datuk Jafry Ariffin; and his Assistant Minister, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai; Sabah Special Tasks Minister, Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif; and Sabah State Secretary, Datuk Seri Sr Safar Untong, among others.
With international borders reopening, Tan said the tourism industry anticipates the establishment of more ‘vaccinated travel lanes’ (VTLs) or similar clear mechanisms with other countries to welcome international tourists.
“Our closest neighbour, Singapore already has VTL arrangements with 15 countries and will add another six countries to that list by December 6, 2021 (which include countries from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America).
“As such, we urge the Government to quickly establish more VTLs or Travel Bubbles to capture the pent-up demand, especially during upcoming holiday seasons. Other popular tourist destinations, such as Kota Kinabalu and Penang, should not be overlooked in addition to Langkawi,” he said.
The first day of the MATTA Fair saw people flocking to the World Trade Center to get information on the many best travel deals offered by 255 booths.
Named as “Malaysia’s Favourite Destination”, Sabah has the largest state pavilion with 12 booths in place, where the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and its exhibitors will promote and market a variety of attractive offerings.
Bangkuai, who is also the STB Chairman, encouraged people to take advantage of the travel fair to explore Sabah even more so now that the Covid-19 swab test is being phased out.
“We are aware that the swab test requirement has been a hindrance for individuals, particularly those travelling with family, who want to visit Sabah.
“Travelling has now been made easier, and now is the time for everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to begin planning a trip to the Land Below The Wind, where many adventures await,” he said.