The Malaysian government is setting December as the tentative timeline to fully reopen the economy to overseas tourists. However, Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri says that it will depend on the outcome of the international tourism bubble in Langkawi.
The Langkawi pilot project which will be launched on 15 November, will allow fully vaccinated international tourists from all countries to visit the island without having to go through a quarantine period. The bubble only allows foreign visitors to travel to Langkawi by booking a trip through a travel agent, who will be held responsible for any SOP non-compliance.
The conditions for the international tourist bubble are quite strict. For starters, the stay would have to be a minimum of three days while the travellers need to take RT-PCR tests before their departure date to Langkawi as well as on their second day at the island, and another test on the fifth day if the trip is over five days. Moreover, they are also required to be insured for a minimum of US$80,000 (~RM332,000).
“Perhaps after Nov 16, and maybe early December. That is not a promise but we will try,” said the minister in parliament. She added that Langkawi will be a benchmark to open more international travel bubbles in other Malaysian destinations, which will be reviewed by the National Security Council (MKN) and the Health Ministry.
Earlier this month, Nancy revealed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia’s tourism loss is estimated to be RM165 billion in 2021, more than last year’s loss of RM135 billion. While Malaysians are now allowed to enter and exit freely, foreigners still need to get MyTravelPass approval which requires specific reasons.