On the same day Malaysia eased interstate travel restrictions (10 October), a Travel Safe Alliance (TSA) was also launched as the destination seeks to reclaim business events and travel traffic.
Malaysians who are fully vaccinated are now free to travel interstate, following the government's earlier statement to reopen once 90% of its adult population has been jabbed twice. Fully vaccinated travellers are also allowed to go overseas, but will undergo mandatory quarantine upon return.
As for the TSA, the team has already engaged with key destination partners which include Sabah, Penang and Johor, according to Tan Kok Liang, President of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).
Along with MATTA, other signatories to the MOU were MAH (Malaysian Association of Hotels) president, N.Subramaniam; MACEOS (Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers) president, Francis Teo; Captain Izham Ismail, MAG Group CEO; and Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG — comprising Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASwings). The event was witnessed by Nancy Shukri, Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia Minister, who also launched the TSA.
The TSA is backed by certifications from an external party, Bureau Veritas Certification Malaysia (based on standards set by the WHO and enhanced for the country), which Tan noted gives travellers, both domestic and international, the confidence of a complete ecosystem of safe travel solutions backed by the “Travel Safe” label for travel and tour arrangements; “Clean & Safe Malaysia” label for hotels; and “SafeBE” for Business Events and convention venues.
Malaysia Airlines also adds its recent seven‐star rating for Covid‐19 safety and health measures from Airlines Ratings to the mix.
Laying the foundation for a safe reopening
As the first in the industry to introduce this independent certification in July last year, MAH's Subramaniam noted that 130 of its 900 members are on board. MATTA has 2001 members while MACEOS has 180, but no numbers were given for how many have been certified.
“We are also working very closely with our Singapore Safe Alliance counterparts on proposals based on our safety standards on how we can quickly work with our respective governments to re‐open reciprocal travel arrangements between our two countries beginning with travel bubbles like Langkawi and business events in Singapore,” added Tan.
With the Langkawi bubble having surpassed the target of 30,000 visitors and most likely at 60,000 now, according to Shukri, valuable insights were provided on how to open up more areas in anticipation of a possible opening to international visitors by year-end.
Teo of MACEOS said this certification will help them gain the trust and confidence of both domestic and international clients and investors and help them to decide to choose Malaysia for their next international conference, convention or exhibition.
As well, despite competition from other countries, Captain Izham said that he is confident international visitors would flock back to the country.
He pointed to a survey, indicating an 85% pent-up demand from travellers in the ASEAN region to visit Malaysia. He also announced that return flights on Malaysia Airlines between Langkawi and Singapore would now be increased to three times weekly.
Source: Travel Weekly Asia