KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Local tourism industry players are more than ready to welcome the reopening of Malaysia's borders come April 1 as flocks of international tourists are expected to grab the opportunity of easier entry to the country.

Some of the local industry players are preparing themselves by giving proper training to their staff to receive international tourists under the new norm in the industry while others are promoting attractive new tourism products.    

Mitra Group of Travel Companies Group President Tunku Iskandar Tunku Abdullah said the group had been anticipating for the borders to reopen as the nation’s domestic tourism has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020 and now, the urgency to revive the tourism sector was important to the nation’s economy.

“As an industry player, we are glad with the announcement made by the prime minister on March 8 regarding reopening the borders for tourism, which I think it’s what we all have been waiting for the past two years.

"The industry has been severely hit since the pandemic where many companies have shut down, people had to give up on the travelling industry and many had also been laid off due to drastic losses in the travelling business,” he told Bernama.

He added that as a preparation to resume receiving tourists, Mitra Group had initiated to open a new resort with new itineraries with the concept of ‘Snow Tourism’ which allows people to move at a leisurely pace than the past that they might have been accustomed to.

Meanwhile, Star Travel Agency’s chief executive officer Harinder Kaur said the announcement was positive news for travel agencies around the country as all of them have been waiting for this moment to be able to resume their businesses.

“To get back into business, we have been reconnecting with our partners around the region of Asia along with our packages, rates, hotel preparation and many others.

"Right now, we are already getting so many inquiries from all over the world, people are asking about our itineraries and now we have to closely work on our sites as a preparation to receive the reopening of the tourism sector well,” she said.

Harinder added that with the reopening of borders, the nation would be able to increase its revenue in the tourism sector which would be a boost for the Malaysian economy  and also its image in the sector.

Meanwhile, Langkawi Tourism Association (LTA) chief executive officer Zainudin Kadir said that with the announcement, the association expects a total of 2.5 million tourists to visit Langkawi by end of this year with 60 per cent of them international tourists.

“The association is also ready mentally and physically to accept tourists from around the globe with better trained industry players who are equipped with the knowledge of the new endemic norms.

“We are also ready to initiate a campaign called ‘Jom Ke Langkawi’ that has a special promotion for local tourists whereby they are given a free night stay for every three days two nights stay in Langkawi,” he said.

He also said that the association is ready to receive tourist inquiries via email, phone calls and social media and is fully prepared come April 1.

On March 8, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the country will enter into the transition period to the endemic phase of the pandemic with the reopening of borders to international travellers from April 1.

He said that Malaysians with valid travel documents can exit and re-enter the country’s borders without any restrictions and also be able to travel to any country that has opened its borders to foreigners, subject to visa and other requirements of the respective countries.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said recently that all tourism and cultural industry players in the country need to make initial preparations to receive tourists from abroad and also intensify promotional activities and be more creative in marketing Malaysian tourism products and locations to the global market. — Bernama