Welcoming new travel lane

Suharto (centre, with white mask) together with guests at the Indonesian Tourism and Culinary Promotion event held at Nona Bali restaurant in George Town.

THE decreasing rate of Covid-19 infections in Indonesia and Malaysia has prompted both governments to formulate a policy to ease the movement of people between the two countries.

Indonesian Consul-General Bambang Suharto said the Indonesian government had reopened the island of Bali on Oct 12 to foreign tourists from 19 countries via Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport.

“Countries that were allowed to have their citizens enter Indonesia went through various considerations.

“They were selected taking into account the number of Covid-19 cases and the low positivity rate based on World Health Organisation standards,” he said in his speech during the Indonesian Tourism and Culinary Promotion event in George Town, Penang, recently.

He said the health and safety of both foreign tourists and the people of Indonesia were an absolute obligation as the pandemic had still not ended.

He said that for this reason, health protocol must be implemented in a strict and disciplined manner.

This includes an end-to-end process when tourists visit Indonesia.

He added that the introduction of interstate travel in Malaysia and the opening of Langkawi to foreign tourists had led to a positive impact on tourist destinations in Malaysia, including Penang.

Suharto said this was certainly welcomed by all those involved in the travel industry.

Likewise in Indonesia, the popular Bali destination is expected to be the starting point to revive the tourism industry and related businesses.

He noted that there was an encouraging development regarding the visits of Malaysians to Indonesia and vice-versa, as reflected in the results of the meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Nov 10.

“One of the issues which has been agreed upon is the Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA)/ Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL),” he said.

For this purpose, two destination points have been selected. They are Jakarta–Kuala Lumpur and Denpasar–Kuala Lumpur.

Suharto said that both schemes were prioritised for people who had been fully vaccinated for the purpose of official, health, business and humanitarian trips.

To support this agreement, mutual recognition on vaccination certification and standard PCR screening test results were also agreed upon.

These policies are scheduled to be implemented in early 2022.

“To anticipate the TCA, the Indonesian Consulate-General in Penang organised this event highlighting Indonesian tourism and culinary delights.

“The aim is to re-promote the diversity of Indonesia to the people in Malaysia,” he said.

Present during the event were Penang Global Tourism chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan, Penang Institute executive director Datuk Dr Ooi Kee Beng and representatives from tourism stakeholders.

Suharto said the number of daily Covid-19 cases in Indonesia was 394 as of Nov 23 and at the same time, the number of people who had been vaccinated was increasing.

“As of now, 65% of the Indonesian population or 226 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine while 43% have been fully vaccinated.”

Suharto noted that in Malaysia, the vaccination programme had gone well and 95.6% of its total adult population had received their complete doses of vaccination.

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