The industry hopes the government and ASEAN to discuss, Establish more VTLs, Harmonize the cross-border tourism policies of various countries.

Date: 31 Dec 2021
Road to Malaysia's Tourism Recovery Series 2

Author 林安琪 Lim Ann Gee

In an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak across borders, Malaysia shuttered their international borders for nearly two years. The only exceptions are the Langkawi International Travel Bubble, which was only opened to foreign tourists in the second half of 2021 and the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore.

These measures were not enough for Malaysian tourism companies who rely on foreign tourists, let along tourism companies that have suffered through this two-year slump. To them, the domestic tourism industry can only fully recover when the borders are reopened.

Oriental Daily interviewed several representatives of the tourism sector who are hoping that the government will create more policies that will reset and revitalise the tourism industry.

In an interview with Oriental Daily, Malindo Air CEO Captain Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri said that the current obstacles in the way on the road to national recovery are the closure of the national borders and the different quarantine testing and vaccination requirements of various countries.

“We are calling on ASEAN countries to come to an agreement on travel documents, testing requirements, testing methods, vaccines and length of quarantine period.”

He hopes that such an agreement will expedite the reopening of borders and once again allow the aviation industry to start flying again and once again connect ASEAN nations.

馬印航空首席執行員慕斯沙菲益

“The Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore is an encouraging initiative. Hopefully we will be able to continue working with countries like Indonesia, Thailand and our other neighbours in ASEAN.”

He said that recovery must be based on distance at this point of time and more emphasis needs to be placed on discussions with ASEAN nations.

He believes that countries should accept tourists who wish to enter and have been vaccinated. It is only when people can once again move around without restriction can the tourism industry regain its momentum on the road to recovery.

Airplane

 
Full recovery needs a strong leadership from MOTAC

Mint Leong, deputy president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) must take the lead in the recovery of the tourism industry since a lot of communication and policymaking across departments and agencies have to be involved.

She emphasised that the full recovery of the tourism industry requires MOTAC to take a strong leadership role, to be responsible for communication and connection between various departments after taking into consideration the suggestions and concerns from industry leaders.

“The policy has to start with the government. If the government does not allow Malaysians to travel abroad and foreign tourists to enter, the travel agencies will be doomed.”

大馬入境旅遊協會署理主席梁偉虹

 

She is hoping that the government can negotiate with ASEAN countries to open up more travel bubbles and flights and to make plans in advance to select suitable locations for travel bubbles and target traveller groups.

“We hope that the travel bubble in Langkawi can be extended to other places, quarantine should be reduced from 7 to 5 days. This safer environment will be able to help inbound tourism operators bring more customers in.”

She suggested that Malaysia should refer to the tourism policies of some other countries in this pandemic such as countries with more travel freedom like those in Europe and America to then craft a suitable model for Malaysia’s tourism industry.

 

An ASEAN travel visa has been proposed to allow for travel between 10 countries

On the other hand, Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said that the association has repeatedly suggested that the ASEAN Tourism Association introduce a single visa for ASEAN countries in order to attract more foreign tourists.

He explained that tourists holding this visa should be allowed unimpeded travel to the 10 ASEAN countries without having to apply for separate visas, thus allowing more tourists to visit more ASEAN countries and spend more time here.

He said that this strategy is similar to the one adopted in European countries and can be an excellent strategy for the Malaysian tourism industry which has been highly dependent on foreign tourists and their high spending power.

大馬酒店業協會首席執行員葉立聖

 

He pointed out that ASEAN can take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to conduct a major reset of the tourism industry and to restart in concerted marketing between ASEAN nations to present itself as a destination as a whole.

He also said that ASEAN as a whole is a very competitive tourist destination because of the wide variety of attractions, cultures and natures that are competitive with other travel destinations.

He pointed out that ASEAN member nations can work together to promote tourism in ASEAN through a clever marketing slogan being “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” when promoting and encouraging tourism in their respective countries.

He believes that as long as the 10 ASEAN countries can commit to this it will bring an influx of a large number of tourists and eventually benefit all ASEAN member nations.

In addition, Yap also said that Malaysia is very dependent on tourists from within ASEAN itself, especially from Singapore.

“70% of our tourists are from ASEAN and almost half of them are from Singapore.”

He said that tourists from Singapore are not particularly helpful to the Malaysian hotel industry as they prefer to stay with their relative and friends in their homes instead.

He believes that Malaysia needs to revamp its strategy in order to reduce its reliance on Singaporean tourists and instead, look towards expanding to attract tourists from other key markets such as China, India, Japan and South Korea.


This article is developed under the SEAFORE project, with the support of IWPR

 

為了控制新冠病毒跨境傳播,馬來西亞的國際邊境封鎖了將近兩年,直到今年下半年開始,才對外國遊客開放的浮羅交怡旅遊泡泡,以及馬新疫苗接種者旅遊走廊(VTL)。

這些舉措對依賴國際遊客的大馬旅遊業者來說,根本是久旱逢甘露;但是這對已經面對兩年低潮的旅遊業者來說是不足夠的,他們皆認為只有重開邊境,才能夠讓國內旅遊業全面復甦。

《東方日報》訪問了旅遊生態圈的數名代表,他們希望政府可以做出更多政策來重置和振興旅遊業。

馬印航空首席執行員慕斯沙菲益在接受《東方日報》的訪問時表示,目前航空業復甦的障礙是,我國邊境仍然關閉,再者就是不同的國家,在隔離、檢測和疫苗種類有不同的要求。

[ 我們呼籲東盟各國在旅行證、檢測要求或其他檢測方法、疫苗種類和隔離期長短達成一致的共識。]

他希望藉此可以加快邊境重新開放,使航空業能夠啟動航班並改善東盟國家之間的聯繫。

馬印航空首席執行員慕斯沙菲益
馬印航空首席執行員慕斯沙菲益


[ 馬新疫苗接種者旅遊走廊(VTL)是一個非常令人鼓舞的舉措,希望我們可以繼續與印尼、泰國和東盟其他鄰國等其他國家合作。]

他說 ,復甦必須根據地區由近到遠,現階段更加注重與東盟各國的通行。

他認為,各國應該接受已經完成接種新冠疫苗的遊客入境,唯有人們可以不受限制的走動,旅遊業才有復甦的動力。

Airplane


全面復甦需要強大的旅遊部作領頭羊

大馬入境旅遊協會署理主席梁偉虹指出,主導旅遊業復甦必須是旅遊部,因為涉及大量的跨部門和機構的溝通和政策。

她強調,旅遊業的全面復甦需要一個強大的旅遊部作為領頭羊,在聆聽業者的困境、想法和建議後,負責與各個部門單位溝通和銜接。

[ 政策始於政府,今天如果政府不准國人出門,不讓外國遊客進來,作為旅行社簡直是完蛋。]

大馬入境旅遊協會署理主席梁偉虹
大馬入境旅遊協會署理主席梁偉虹


她希望,政府可以與東盟國家洽談,開放更多旅遊泡泡和航班,並提前做好規劃,根據所設定的目標體,選擇合適的旅遊泡泡地點。

[ 我們希望這個旅遊泡泡能夠從浮羅交怡延伸到其他的地方,(篩檢程序)可能從7天減少至5天。那麼在安全的情況下,可以幫助入境旅遊業者爭取更多遊客。]

她建議,我國多參考各國疫情下的旅遊政策,比如較為自由的歐美國家,然後再打造一個適合我國旅遊業的模式。


建議推出東盟簽證可在10國通行

另一方面,大馬酒店業協會首席執行員葉立聖表示,該協會曾多次建議東南亞旅遊協會,推出東盟國家單一簽證,以吸引更多國際遊客。

他解釋,持有該簽證的旅客可以在東盟10國暢通無阻,無需另外申請簽證,這樣可以讓更多遊客前往更多東盟旅遊景點,逗留更長的時間。

他表示,這與歐洲國家說採取的策略類似,對高度依賴具有更高消費能力國際遊客的大馬旅遊業來說,是一個非常好的策略。

大馬酒店業協會首席執行員葉立聖
大馬酒店業協會首席執行員葉立聖


他指出,東盟應該趁著新冠疫情期間,對旅遊業進行大重置,重新開始為東盟為一個整體目的地,進行協同營銷。

他表示,東盟整體上是一個非常有競爭力的旅遊目的地,因為有各式各樣的景點,其文化特色和大自然都非常有吸引力,不會比其他區域差。

他指出,在推銷和促請各自國家的旅遊業時,東盟成員國可以一個出彩的營銷標語   [ 一個願景、一個身份、一個共同體 ],來共同合作宣傳東盟的旅遊業。

他認為,只要東盟10國都這麼做,將會增加大量遊客,最終惠及所有東盟成員。

另外,葉立聖表示,大馬非常依賴來自東盟的旅客,尤其是新加坡。

[ 我們70% 的遊客來自東盟,其中幾乎一半以上是新加坡人。]

他說,新加坡的旅客對大馬酒店業的幫助不大,因為通常新加坡人來馬都選擇住在親戚朋友的家。

他認為,大馬需要重新制定戰略,減少對新加坡遊客的依賴,拓展其他關鍵市場,如中國、印度、日本和韓國。


備注:此專題報導為戰爭與和平報導研究所(IWPR)支持的SEAFORE東盟精英項目(SEAFORE ASEAN Masterclass project)之一。