KUCHING: Travel agencies in the state are eagerly monitoring the progress of the pilot travel bubble initiative in Langkawi which was recently implemented by the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture Malaysia (Motac).
Sales manager of Tanahmas Travel, Siti Fatimah Khalid hoped Sarawak would be the next state to reopen to domestic tourists.
“Many Malaysians have not visited Sarawak yet and experienced its hidden gems here, such as the Mulu National Park in Miri which is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
“Sarawak is rich in culture and heritage, and we have more than 26 different races here besides our traditional cuisine. Therefore, we must continue to educate outsiders about our origins to prevent our identity from disappearing with the passage of time.
“The reopening of the border will be our opportunity to accelerate our tourism industry,” she said in response to news that federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri was mulling permitting Sarawak to reopen to tourists next.
“Yes, hopefully, Sarawak will be next in line. It will be good news for tour operators, accommodation providers, airlines and other tourism-related businesses in the state.
“I am sure that the reopening of our tourism industry will help local businesses to sustain, too,” she said.
Siti Fatimah revealed that like other travel agencies, Tanahmas Travel had also experienced severe difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic owing to declining sales as a result of flight limitations and travel restrictions.
She added the reopening of the tourism sector in Sarawak despite the Covid-19 crisis would be a ‘good confidence booster’ and showed the state was constantly moving forward.
“We must embrace the fact that even if the pandemic is brought under control, Covid-19 will still remain endemic.
“We have no choice but to adapt to the virus. The majority of countries have chosen to live with Covid-19 as they can no longer shut down and contain the pandemic any longer,” she added.
Therefore, Siti Fatimah hoped that the travel bubble initiative implemented in Langkawi recently would become a success and serve as a benchmark for the recovery of the tourism industry in other areas, particularly Sarawak.
“Domestic travellers will be able to enjoy pleasant vacations and new experiences in Sarawak even if they are only in Malaysia,” she added.