Malaysia covid deserted skyline
Before the COVID-19 crisis, travel and tourism were one of the major contributors to Malaysia's economy, with a contribution of 15.9% to the country’s economy. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Malaysia’s plan to open its borders for international tourists may take longer with cases of the Omicron variant surging in different parts of the world.

The South East Asian country, which was expected to allow tourists within its borders from January 1, 2022, will stick to quarantine measures for a foreseeable period, said Zainuddin Abdul Wahab, Tourism Malaysia’s Director General, during an event at the Malaysia Pavilion in Dubai Expo 2020.

All tourists arriving in Malaysia, including from UAE, have to be quarantined in the country’s Langkawi region for seven days before proceeding to other areas. “The original plan was to try this arrangement for a three-month period, but with cases surging it is hard to predict anything,” said Wahab.

Last month, Malaysia reopened its land and air borders for Singaporean citizens through a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangement.

Wahab, who could not immediately provide figures for UAE tourists in Malaysia in 2021, said he expects numbers to improve considerably in 2022. Overall, Malaysia plans to attract eight million visitors in the coming year, compared to about four million in 2021.

“Domestic tourism will still be the key pillar of Malaysia’s tourism sector,” said Wahab.

COVID impact

Before the COVID-19 crisis, travel and tourism were one of the major contributors to Malaysia’s economy, with a contribution of 15.9 per cent to the country’s economy and roughly 24 per cent of the total employment in 2019. In the same year, Malaysia received 26.1 million inbound tourist arrivals and RM86 billion in tourism revenue.

“However, the severe outbreak of the pandemic has since prompted the implementation of the movement control order to stem the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia,” said a press release seen by Gulf News. “Movement restrictions and closed borders have had devastating effects on the country’s tourism industry.”

Travelling to Langkawi

In line with its National Recovery Plan Phase 4, the Government of Malaysia reopened its international tourism sector for the Langkawi Island Pilot Project.

Fully vaccinated travellers are allowed to travel to Langkawi Island for a minimum stay of three days and will be allowed to travel to other destinations within Malaysia after staying on Langkawi Island.

Movement to and from Langkawi Island will be by air transport only through Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA 1) and Langkawi International Airport (LIA).

Travellers must comply with the following pre departure procedures:

• Details of the tour operator / travel agent registered and licensed under MOTAC (including license number)

• Return flight tickets must be issued by the same carrier that the passenger is using to enter into Malaysia

• Accommodation

• Booking / payment of mandatory COVID 19 screening tests

• Tour guide

• Itinerary / tour package

Other rules to follow:

• Free Independent Traveller (FIT) or travellers who plan their own trips/holidays will not be allowed.

• Travellers must have insurance worth $80,000 (which covers COVID 19 related and travel costs) for the whole duration of their stay in Malaysia.

• MyTravel Pass approval is not required.

• All passengers must download and register on MySejahtera app before boarding their first flight.