Johor ready to welcome visitors

Responsible tourism: Onn Hafiz (left) and Leong believe reopening tourism must be carried out under strict safety standards.

JOHOR BARU: Strict adherence to the standard operating procedure (SOP) is a must, either for travellers or tourism industry players to curb the ongoing pandemic, says Johor tourism, youth and sports committee chairman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

He said the state government was expecting a huge crowd following the reopening of the tourism industry starting today as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Sept 22.

“Johor is ready to welcome visitors and we are looking forward to people coming to our tourist destinations as we have so much to offer across all districts.

“But our main priority is always the SOP imposed by the National Security Council. Even though we are free to move around, we have to take care of ourselves and our families, and prioritise our safety and health because that is more important,” he said when contacted yesterday.

He added that some of the famous locations that have received numerous bookings include the islands in Mersing, Desaru Coast in Kota Tinggi, Johor Baru and Muar.

“I have personally visited Desaru to check on their readiness and so far, I am pleased with the preparations made by the tourism players here from the QR code check-ins to the hygiene maintenance.

“I hope that other places are doing the same thing so that we can jumpstart our local tourism economy,” he added.

Onn Hafiz also shared that Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad is expected to announce a special tourism incentive programme on Oct 4 to boost tourism activities in the state.

Meanwhile, Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim said that the department would be working together with the local councils and the police to monitor tourism destinations across the state starting today to ensure SOP was strictly followed.

“Those who have symptoms should remain home and refrain from travelling or coming to work.

“At the same time, I hope that local travellers will continue to support our industry players as all of them have not been in operation for quite some time.

“There might be places that are ‘out of shape’ so I hope travellers can use this chance to help them get back on their feet,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said that the opening of the tourism industry was indeed a relief to most tourism partners as it gives industry players a chance to continue their long halted businesses.

“The opening, however, should see strict SOP enforced especially in the wearing of masks, social distancing practices and the full vaccination of visitors and service providers.

“There should be no compromise at all levels in terms of the implementation of all the health safety measures,” he said.

Leong, who is also Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman, said he looked forward to the ‘new norm’ that safeguards all industry stakeholders.

“We hope that there shall be no further job losses in the future and we can slowly recover in all sectors,” he said, adding that responsible tourism would be the key direction moving forward.

Mersing Tourism Association (MTA) chairman Sheikh Zulkifli Sheikh Abdul Rahim said that tourists should prepare themselves with the Covid-19 self-test kits or reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests if they plan on going to the island in Mersing.

“These are parts of the new SOP imposed by the Mersing District Council. We hope that visitors will be able to comply with the new guidelines when island hopping.

“Let’s give our frontliners a chance to rest as the government has given their best to take care of us, so it is high time that we learn to take care of ourselves and our families when going out,” he said.

He added that all of the resorts, either on the mainland and the islands off Mersing had been fully booked from Oct 9 onwards.

“There are still a few slots left between Oct 2 and Oct 8, but everything beyond that date is now full,” he said, adding that this is a positive sign of a revival of the tourism industry.

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