KUCHING, Feb 28 — Sarawak is looking to establish a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and either Kuching or Miri to see more travellers coming into the state, said Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said there is currently a VTL between Singapore and Malaysia located at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“For Singapore and Malaysia, there is only one VTL route which is KLIA and Singapore. We are trying to have something like Singapore-Sarawak (VTL) either through Kuching or Miri.
“If this can be materialised soon, it will be good news for us (Sarawak),” he said at a press conference after attending a function at the Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre here yesterday.
Abdul Karim, who is also Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development, was pleased that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who recently visited Thailand for work, had announced Malaysia and Thailand would be working out a VTL between the two countries.
He welcomed such an announcement despite the fact there is yet to be a direct flight between Thailand and Sarawak.
He said Sarawak was also looking into establishing a VTL with neighbouring countries such as Indonesia to bring in more travellers to the state.
“The prime minister has announced the VTL between Brunei and Sararawak, Malaysia will be opened soon and the Sultan of Brunei has said the same thing.
“That (Brunei) is our main entry in terms of the number of visitors. Before Covid-19, Brunei was the one contributing the highest number of visitors (to Sarawak).
“So if they open the door (border), if the VTL is wide open, I believe it will be a matter of time for us to be back to normal in terms of visitors coming in,” he said.
According to Abdul Karim, Sarawak was already seeing an increase in the number of travellers.
He pointed out the state’s tourist arrivals recorded an increase of 400 to 500 per cent in January and February this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
“I’m happy to see that we are able to manage — it’s not as bad as before. It looks like the world as well as Malaysia, including Sarawak, are getting better and better.”
Abdul Karim said the country was slowly easing into the endemic state, even though he could not say when the government was going to announce it.
“Some countries have opened their doors. We do hope that with our door (border) opened (later), we will be able to see visitors coming in and Sarawakians able to fly out,” he said. — Borneo Post Online