Tourism industry players near-ecstatic to welcome transition to endemic phase

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 (Bernama) — The Transition to Endemic Phase which started today has clearly brought relief and joy to the big picture, especially players in the tourism industry, after tolerating two years of low profile existence following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This momentous wait of the tourism players, especially the hospitality industry, has led them to exploit the long-standing opportunity to make initial and elaborate preparations to welcome the return of tourists both locally and abroad.

Malaysian Budget and Business Association (MyBHA) president Emmy Suraya Hussein said the hotel industry has long been ready for the re-opening of the country’s borders and welcoming tourists back, especially from abroad, by prioritising compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs).

She said this was because the country’s tourism sector could not rely on domestic tourists alone as they were not frequent travellers, hence the opening up of the international borders would revive the country’s economy in the foreign tourism sector as momentum builds up on the domestic front first.

“However, I encourage Malaysians to travel within the country first because we have many interesting destinations. (Hence) If we can, to explore the many attractions in Malaysia. We also provide many interesting initiatives and packages to locals, so use this opportunity,” she said when contacted by Bernama today.

In TERENGGANU, State Tourism, Culture and Digital Technology Committee chairman Ariffin Deraman said the state’s tourism industry would be more vibrant, especially in the island segment as 80 per cent of foreign tourists to the state would head to resort islands.

“The state government has also approved a direct flight from Singapore to Pulau Redang which will start on April 6. So we hope this initiative will bring economic benefits to the tourism players of Pulau Redang, including the villagers there.

“Direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Terengganu are also twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, compared to only Sundays before. We hope that foreign tourists who visit Sabah will hop over to holiday in Terengganu,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pulau Perhentian Accommodation Premises Association president Abdul Aziz Che Abdullah said the resort island is expected to be flooded with foreign tourists around July or August, apart from some tourists from various countries being keen about tour packages.

In PAHANG, Tioman Santai Resort chalet operator Ab Razib Ali Awang said bookings at his accommodation were full until Hari Raya Aidilfitri which was received robust enquiries from local and international tourists such as Australia and Germany.

He said the arrival of foreign and local tourists is seen to be able to revive tourism in Pulau Tioman, which is rich in natural beauty, but was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pahang Tourism general manager Kamaruddin Ibrahim said the phase shift will kickstart the tourism industry, especially involving Singaporean holiday-makers which recorded one of the highest pre-pandemic international tourist arrivals in the state at almost 1.2 million visitors.

He stated that most tourists from the neighbouring country relish nature activities as found in Taman Negara, Pulau Tioman and Cameron Highlands.

Meanwhile in KEDAH, hotel industry players are ready for tourist arrivals despite not expecting numbers to the state to rise sharply despite the opening of borders.

Deputy chairman of the Kedah/Perlis Malaysian Hotel Association Razmi Rahmat said with two days left before the month of Ramadan, domestic tourists is expected to be a trickle, though they can expect more international tourists to come to Kedah.

Apart from that, Tourism Malaysia International Promotion Division senior director Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar hoped industry players would be able to offer attractive tourism packages, especially with Ramadan approaching.

“Activities during the month of Ramadan are also a tourism product that we promote to foreign tourists every year. So we hope during Ramadan, local industry players can promote attractive packages,” he said.

In PERLIS, Telaga Kabu Homestay operator, Mohd Ramzi Mat Tajri, 46, said with the return of foreign tourists, especially Thais, hotels and homestays in the state could resume operations even though it would not be as vibrant as pre-pandemic times.

“Homestay and hotel operators have also been suppressed for a long time, so it is hoped that with the reopening of the border gate, it will spark the tourism sector in Perlis again,” he said.

In PENANG, the Penang Tourism Attractions Association (ATAP) is targeting a 15 per cent increase in visitors to the state with borders reopening from today.

Chairman of ATAP Ch’ng Huck Theng said although ticket bookings to tourist attractions were not as many at the moment, but based on the experience during the implementation of the Vaccinated Travel Lane-Air route (VTL-Air) with Singapore, tourists to the state preferred as they would to buy walk-in tickets.

In addition, Penang Hotel Association of Malaysia (MAH) chairman Tony Goh said the association did not expect a significant rise in hotel occupancy rates in the state this month as it was still early days since foreign tourists needed time to plan their holidays.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency