KUCHING, Feb 26 — The government has plans to implement the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with Thailand to revive the country’s tourism industry, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.
The proposal is following his three-day visit to Thailand, which ended today, in the process boosting the development of the country’s economic sector impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years.
“Besides this, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei have in principle also agreed to the proposed implementation of this VTL,” he said in his speech when launching the Citrawarna Keluarga Malaysia programme here that was also attended by Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Ismail Sabri said the VTL between Malaysia and Brunei was agreed upon as a result of his discussions with the Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah during his recent visit to Brunei.
“This move will not only be able to revive Sarawak’s tourism industry but also boost the economy, especially in Miri, Limbang and Lawas which border Brunei,” he said.
Ismail Sabri said the government’s initiative to reactivate the country’s tourism sector had started from the implementation of the Langkawi International Tourism Bubble (LITB) in November last year.
He said the initiative was a pilot project on readiness and preparedness of the tourism sector, including by industry players and relevant government agencies towards the new normal.
Although only three months old, he said the project had generated more than RM28 million in revenue after attracting 5,686 foreign tourists.
He said since its introduction, there have been no Covid-19 clusters caused by LITB tourists.
“The good feedback received from the parties involved in the implementation of LITB, gives the government confidence to continue the LITB initiative until the country’s borders are fully opened later,” he said.
Ismail Sabri said in Budget 2022, the government also announced a special assistance of RM85 million to more than 20,000 tourism operators registered under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, with payments to be made in March and May.
He said some 10,000 tourist guides who would each receive RM1,500, 5,592 travel agencies (RM9,000 per agency) and 3,100 homestay operators registered with MOTAC (RM1,800 per operator) were among those who would benefit from the aid.
“It is hoped the initiatives and measures taken by the government will revive the tourism sector and propel Malaysia as a destination of choice for global tourism,” he added. — Bernama