Malaysia will reopen its borders to international visitors no later than January 1, 2022, a government advisory body said on Thursday, as the country seeks to revive its ailing tourism sector.
Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who chairs a council tasked with spearheading Malaysia’s economic recovery programme, told reporters the tourism industry was recovering too slowly without foreigners and noted that operators needed time to resume businesses.
Investment analysts have said foreign customers were a key business component for Malaysia’s only casino complex, Resorts World Genting, prior to the pandemic.
The former national premier said however that even with easing of inbound travel, infection control measures such as Covid-19 tests would remain in place.
The Malaysian authorities would determine entry rules based on the Covid-19 situation in originating countries, and other factors, he stated.
More than 75 percent of Malaysia’s 32-million population are said to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to government data.
Separately on Thursday, the head of Malaysia’s diplomatic mission in Singapore said the recent announcement of limited quarantine-free Malaysia-Singapore air travel from November 29, paved the way for opening of the ground-level crossing points between the two neighbouring nations.
But Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Singapore, Azfar Mohamad Mustafar, said cross-border movement would not be like pre-Covid-19 levels, when 200,000 to 300,000 people travelled between the two countries daily.
Malaysian visitors had in pre-pandemic times been an important component of business at Singapore’s two casino venues: Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, according to analyst commentary.
In other developments on Thursday, banking group Nomura said in a memo that it expected inbound tourism to Singapore to track higher by year-end, thanks to the easing measures.
Nomura said its research tool known as TRIPTracker, was likely to be higher for Singapore inward tourism by “6.3 percent by year-end from 3.0 percent on 19 October, helped by the major expansion in the Vaccinated Travel Lane programme,” and was likely to be 5.8 percent better on 29 November “due to the bilateral Vaccinated Travel Lane” for air travel with Malaysia.
Under the Vaccinated Travel Lane programme, which began on September 8, Singapore has admitted tourists from a number of countries, including Canada, the United States, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. On November 14, South Korea will be added to the scheme, according to Singapore’s immigration authority.
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