KUCHING: Although Malaysia has reopened its borders to Singapore and Brunei, this is bilateral and approval from these other countries is also required, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
“They may have their own criteria and we also have ours. However, of course, the main criterion is to ensure that the country is safe for our people to visit and holiday at,” she said.
“We rely on guidance from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and also from the World Health Organisation (WHO). We have identified countries which are green zones — this is the key guidance,” she added.
She was speaking during a press conference following an engagement session between Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) and Sarawak’s tourism industry players at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here yesterday.
She said that they were also planning travel bubbles with other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. However, she noted that some countries had experienced a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
“So, we stand guided by WHO and we have identified the fastest way for us to recover our economy through tourism by opening our borders,” she said.
She said that Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was still in discussions with various countries.
On the shortening of the end-of-year school holidays, Nancy opined that this would not be too detrimental to the tourism sector.
“Now, many have already participated in domestic tourism — holidaying at Pulau Redang and other islands,” she said, adding that this showed that the public were keen and responding well to domestic tourism.
She believed that despite its shorter period, the end-of-year holidays would see many places of attraction frequented by locals.
“What is more, the end-of-year period is also fruiting season — this can be another tourism product for us,” she said.
Also present at the session were Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Motac secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari Hamat, Motac Sarawak permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, and other representatives.