GEORGE TOWN, Aug 13 — Putrajaya should consider the gradual reopening of certain sub-sectors in the tourism industry such as outdoor tourism attractions and ecotourism sites, Penang exco Yeoh Soon Hin proposed today.
The creative economy committee chairman said non-contact sports and recreational activities at outdoor and half-indoor areas are allowed under Phases Two and Three of the National Recovery Plan.
He pointed out that fully vaccinated individuals are now allowed to stay in hotels and homestays within the same state, but the leeway does not extend to other tourism industry players such as tourist attractions.
“If individual outdoor sports without face masks can be allowed, why can’t the same be applied to outdoor tourist attractions, especially ecotourism sites, while imposing a mandatory face mask requirement on all visitors?” he asked in a statement.
He said there must be a balance between lives and livelihoods especially when the tourism industry has come to a complete stop due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are not requesting for a full return of tourism activities, but a gradual reopening of certain sub-sectors such as outdoor tourism attractions with strict adherence to SOPs outlined by the respective authorities,” he said.
He said outdoor tourism attractions in Penang such as The Habitat, Penang Hill Corporation and The TOP are among those that have received the state’s Covid-19 Safety Accreditation Programme.
He said the accreditation was issued to tourism industry establishments that meet and adhere to strict hygiene and safety standards set by the local authorities.
He said these operators are fully equipped to implement strict measures to adhere to the Covid-19 SOPs and ensure the safety of their visitors.
Yeoh also said there must be uniformity in policies and SOPs for the tourism industry.
He added that the Association of Tourism Attractions Penang had raised its concerns to his office and asked for outdoor tourist attractions be allowed to reopen.
“Their request has been submitted to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in a formal letter today,” he said.
He hoped the ministry will consider the request as visitors to outdoor tourist attractions can still be kept safe through strict implementation of SOPs.