Johor gears up for possible tourism bubble

Captivating view: With a scene like this during low tide at Pulau Setindan, it is little wonder that Mersing has been earmarked for reopening. — Photo courtesy of Mersing District Council

JOHOR BARU: The state government is considering three locations as part of its preparations to welcome back tourists if the travel bubble to Pulau Langkawi is proven a success.

Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim said the potential locations were islands off the coast of Mer-sing, Desaru and Iskandar Puteri.

“We are working closely with the Health Ministry and Mersing district office as well as the Mersing Tourism Association to carry out the vaccination programme involving islanders and tourism players.

“We are awaiting the standard operating procedure to be set by the National Security Council and Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry under the travel bubble,” he said.

Suhairi said the three locations were identified due to their popularity with tourists.

He also said that state tourism, youth and sports committee chairman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi would be holding a town hall session with local tourism industry players for their feedback before requesting for a travel bubble similar to the one in Langkawi.

Lotus Desaru Beach Resort and Spa chief executive officer R. Indra Gandhi Pillai said it had already taken the necessary measures to meet the guidelines and SOP.

This, she said, included having all 400 of its staff vaccinated.

Another measure is to offer room service for breakfast instead of having a large crowd gathering at its restaurants or breakfast hall.

“Our breakfast hall can cater for up to 1,200 guests at one time. But people are still concerned about Covid-19, so we plan to send breakfast to their rooms,” she said.

“We are also looking at allowing guests to have picnics at the beach.

“We will make sure that they practise physical distancing to comply with the SOP.”

Indra Gandhi also said that when the authorities allowed the tourism sector to open up last year, Lotus Desaru Beach Resort and Spa, which has 793 apartments, could only take in 50% of its capacity.

According to her, the resort that opened in 2009 has always been a hit with tourists, especially families.

“We are the pioneers in Desaru and are happy that other hotels have opened up on this side of Johor.

“With all the preparations taken by our side, we are more than ready to welcome tourists back,” she added.

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