SUBANG JAYA: Malaysia and Singapore have begun talks on opening their borders to each other under a dedicated vaccinated travel lane where air travellers will be allowed entry.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said she had earlier today met with her Singaporean counterpart to discuss the preparations as well as standard operating procedures.
"In principle, the proposal has been agreed to by both countries, but not yet approved as the SOP needs to be refined.
"Discussions will continue and we hope it can happen before Nov 15, ahead of the Langkawi international tourism travel bubble. "For us, the sooner the better. Malaysia is prepared to open its border with Singapore. I hope Singapore is ready, too. "We have discussed that both countries will only accept tourists who travel by air. For other modes of transport, not yet," she said at the launch of the Jom Jalan Jalan campaign today.
The campaign, which promotes domestic tourism, is organised by Petron Malaysia in collaboration with the ministry through Tourism Malaysia. Nancy added that before the border opening proposal could materialise, it needed the approval of the National Security Council, the Covid-19 Quartet Ministers and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
She said the proposal was set to ease travel for both countries given that there were many Malaysians residing in Singapore and vice-versa. Meanwhile, Nancy said she hoped that the 2022 Budget, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament this Friday, would show concern for the tourism industry.
Tourism industry players should be given the required financial support as the sector had restarted after the nationwide travel ban was lifted recently, she said.
"Some hotels, homestays and other related premises need assistance to renovate or upgrade their properties, otherwise they would still have low quality infrastructure.
"Under the National Tourism Policy, we want to see high yield tourists but in order for them to come, they expect our infrastructure to be on a par with their expectations.
"We want that to be provided to the industry through the budget to ensure that the tourism sector opens up and emerges stronger," said Nancy.
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*Update: Malaysia and Singapore will launch a vaccinated travel lane between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport from November 29, 2021.