KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 ― Sabah said today it will allow fully-vaccinated visitors to enter the state without having to take a prior swab test starting from December 1.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said Sabah is fully prepared to welcome international arrivals as soon as Malaysia reopens its borders next year.

“By November 2021, there are already 266 weekly direct flights into Sabah from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, Kota Bharu, Labuan, and Sarawak, with a total capacity of 43,000 seats.

“Within Sabah, there are 123 weekly flights with a total capacity of 16,720 seats connecting Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, and Tawau,” he said while opening the 49th Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair at PWTC here.

The speech text was provided to the media.

Last month, State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun had said that there would be no more quarantine requirement for fully-vaccinated persons to enter Sabah unless arriving from overseas.

Previously, fully-vaccinated travellers were still required to undergo swab tests three days before arrival.

As for accommodation facilities, Hajiji said there will be an additional 3,506 rooms expected to be available with the completion of 11 new hotel developments in 2022.

At the same time, he said the Sabah State Government had implemented the Sabah Tourism Recovery Plan for domestic and international segments to improve tourism promotion, including market shifting during the pandemic.

According to Hajiji, the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has collaborated with tourism industry players to hold virtual engagements, travel expos, promotion, and training on destination updates.

“This includes re-establishing trade and tourist confidence through business-to-business and government-to-government, with many countries including China, Korea, Norway, Indonesia, Brunei, India, Dubai, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

“The STB is also working with airlines and assisting them in re-establishing direct flights for domestic and international travel,” he said.

Hajiji added that the return of the MATTA Fair was significant as it marks the beginning of the recovery phase for the tourism industry after the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years.