KUCHING: Malaysia is working closely with member countries and economies in Asean, Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (Apec), World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) to achieve effective recovery protocols by developing meaningful action plans that optimise sector-wide recovery efforts.
In stating this, federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says ultimately, all parties are envisioning a future of travel that is safe, secure, seamless and provides an authentic and meaningful experience to travellers across the journey; and also one that supports the livelihoods of millions and contributes to sustainable economic growth.
Speaking at a webinar on ‘Malaysia’s Tourism Embraces Travelling in the New Norm’ yesterday, Nancy pointed out that Asean was working towards formulating wide-ranging standard operating procedures (SOPs) to facilitate travellers without neglecting essential aspects of health and safety of the frontliners, tourists and tourism employees.
“To ensure the safety of its workforce and travellers as the sector shifts to new normal, Asean will also be using digital technology.
“This is also to support the recovery efforts in tourism activities and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Asean member states.
“Another measure to regain travellers’ confidence towards the health and safety of Asean tourism destinations is through effective communications on the current status of Covid-19 and Asean tourism destinations operations,” she said.
She said her ministry had submitted 12 SOPs for the reopening of tourism and cultural sector which, among other things, would include the implementation of physical distancing; sanitisation and disinfection of hotels, guestrooms, and vehicles; and training of tourist guides to ensure compliance with the SOPs and to safeguard tourists from possible infection risks.
“As of date, 10 SOPs have been approved by the National Security Council (NSC) and Ministry of Health (MoH) namely (those pertaining to the) art, culture and heritage exhibitions at premises and public cultural facilities, hotel accommodation premises, tour operating companies, licensed travel and tour guiding, tourism training institutes, Malaysia Homestay Experience Programme, adventurous and outdoor activities, scuba-diving and snorkelling activities, dry theme parks, and live performances and shows.
“These SOPs have been officially published by NSC and are accessible via all platforms,” she said.
Nancy also said her ministry had finally concluded the long-awaited negotiation with NSC on three other SOPS – those for spa and wellness industry; meetings-incentives-conferencing-exhibitions (MICE) events; and travel and trade fairs.
“One additional SOP for water theme parks was just approved this morning (yesterday).
“These four sub-sectors will start operating, with SOPs in place, from July 1,” she said.
Nancy acknowledged that travel trends would change for the time being and that travel analysts had said that international travel would take a lot more time to recover.
“Nevertheless, let us all focus on battling this pandemic and hope the situation would improve so that we coulf open our borders in the immediate future.
“Needless to say, Malaysia is safe for tourists. This goes beyond having low reported infection numbers, but also having credible systems in place should any tourist get sick,” added the minister.