'Revenge tourists' to boost domestic travel sector, says Tourism Malaysia DG

Tourism activities are currently allowed in areas under the conditional movement control order and recovery MCO. - AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

Malaysia is banking on domestic "revenge tourists" to boost the battered leisure travel sector once it's safe to holiday again, says Tourism Malaysia director-general Zulkifly Md Said.

"Our domestic tourists are waiting to travel again, especially interstate travel. If they are allowed to cross state borders, they would do so," he said during the launch of ITB Berlin Now.

Zulkifly added that Tourism Malaysia has observed encouraging travel movement with the lifting of interdistrict travel ban recently.

"Hotels are receiving weekend staycation guests. Since people have long been stuck at home, they want to just relax at a hotel and do some sightseeing in the city," he said, adding that airlines should introduce more domestic routes.

The term "revenge tourism" describes the huge desire from people to travel after being stuck at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Zulkifly, tourism operators in Malaysia are ready to receive visitors once tourism activities resume in full again.

Tourism activities are currently allowed in areas under the conditional movement control order and recovery MCO.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, however, said tourism activities in conditional MCO areas would be limited to 50% of the capacity of the premises.

He said among the activities allowed include public and tourist attractions such as zoos, cultural heritage sites, museums, farms, aquariums, edutainment centres, recreational parks, theme parks, extreme and nature park outlets.

However, Zulkifly warned that travellers and tourism operators need to observe strict standard operating procedures (SOP).

"Lessons were learned from the rise in cases towards the end of last year (when interstate travel was allowed). Non-compliance of SOP has somehow caused a spike in Covid-19 cases then.

"When interstate travel is allowed again, all of us have a responsibility to observe and obey the SOP. We don't want to have MCO 3.0," he said.

Zulkifly added that the country is also looking at health pass, such as the International Air Transport Associations (IATA) Travel Pass, to faciliate post-pandemic travels.

"We need a valid document that can be accepted for a start, within the Asean region. The document also shouldn't be easily forged for the safety of the travellers and also safety of the country where they are going to," he said.

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