JOHOR BARU – Tourism and trade groups in Malaysia hope that talks with Singapore can begin with the Malaysian government to allow those who have been vaccinated in the island republic to enter the country without the need for quarantine.
Jimmy Leong, President of the Malaysia Tourist Guides Council, said it is important for the government to kick-start this discussion as this is crucial to the local economy’s recovery.
In order to start communicating with Singapore, the state government needs to pressure the federal government.
“This is important for both countries as we are highly dependent on each other and starting such discussions early would be helpful in the speedy recovery of the economy after the pandemic,” he said.
He added that the government should also begin exploring ways of tracking the movement of vaccinated individuals between the two countries with Singapore.
The decision does not have to be taken immediately, but some sort of preliminary discussion should at least take place.
“The initial stages should focus on those who have family members in Johor or need to attend to urgent matters here, as well as for Malaysians in Singapore,” Mr. Leong said.
Ivan Teo, chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor State Branch, said the discussion would give hope to players in the tourism industry who are on the verge of giving up for almost a year after suffering from the pandemic.
“Tourism industry players are losing hope after braving through the pandemic for so long and some have also decided to shut down as they see no way out.
“Starting this discussion will not only give us a better chance of recovering after the pandemic, but will also give industry players a glimpse of hope to continue moving forward,” he said.
Mr Teo added that since the start of the pandemic last year, at least 14 hotels in Johor have shut down.
“The hotel industry has already been struggling even before the pandemic, as they faced competition from online home-sharing businesses and illegal hotel operators.
“Instead of giving incentives and cash handouts, which would not last long, we prefer the government provide us with effective long-term recovery plans and solutions.
“Allowing vaccinated travelers from Singapore to enter the country without having to go through quarantine is one of the key ways, and discussions should start immediately,” he said.