KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has encouraged Malaysians to travel domestically to revive the local tourism industry following the announcement of the recovery movement control order (RMCO) that will see interstate travel restrictions removed.
Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said boosting domestic travel should be the priority as it could rejuvenate other economic activities in the value chain such as tourist attractions, aviation, accommodation, transportation, retail, food and beverage sectors.
“Most countries are putting domestic travel as a priority to boost economic activities. Malaysia should do the same.
“The service industry is a significant revenue earner and employment provider, so this will minimize retrenchments in the tourism industry,” he said in support of the government’s decision to allow interstate travel.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the country’s unprecedented movement control order (MCO) will continue until August 31 under the new RMCO, which is set to begin on June 10 after the conditional movement control order (CMCO) expires on June 9.
Muhyiddin also said interstate travel will be allowed to resume on June 10, with the exception of the areas declared under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO), as the nation moves towards the Covid-19 recovery stage.
However, he expressed hope that the Sabah and Sarawak state governments would relax their state restrictions like Covid-19 test health certificate.
On June 3, Sarawak Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said Malaysians from the peninsula, Sabah and Labuan must undergo Covid-19 tests in their respective states or places three days before entering the state.
Similarly, the Sabah Health Department has also advised those heading to Sabah to get tested for Covid-19 three to seven days prior to their travels.
Tan assured that industry players have prepared the necessary health and safety protocols to welcome tourists and boost travellers’ confidence.
According to Tan, RM92.5 billion was spent in domestic tourism in 2018 and RM83.1 billion in 2017 with a total of 221.3million domestic visitors recorded in 2018, amounting to 302.4 million trips in the country.
He also said the government should also consider gradually opening up the country’s border to international travel to allow foreign tourists into the country.
“To wait for another three months until August 31 is a bit too long.
“So we hope that the government could gradually open up the Asean international border while allowing those from countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Australia into Malaysia as they are low risk from Covid-19,” he added.