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.


“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.


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.”



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.



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






[ 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。]



[ 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。






[ 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。]



[ 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。]









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。



[ 我們70% 的遊客來自東盟,其中幾乎一半以上是新加坡人。]



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。