KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia hopes it will be able to fully reopen to international tourists as early as December this year, says Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said at the moment the government only allowed international travellers to visit Langkawi beginning Nov 15 and would observe the developments there.
"For the whole of Malaysia, we will observe the situation in Langkawi first, and then only we can look into reopening the whole of the country.
"However, we have prepared all the standard operating procedures and once we see that everything is alright, and although we set a target of three months, I think we may open it earlier.
"Let us pray that it can happen at the nearest time.
"Perhaps after Nov 16, and maybe early December. That is not a promise but we will try," she said in reply to a supplementary question from M. Karupaiya (PH-Padang Serai) during Ministers' Question Time.
Karupaiya had asked the Ministry to state the timeline to reopen tourism activities for international travellers nationwide.
To the initial question, she said under the international tourism travel bubble pilot project in Langkawi, it would be a benchmark to open more international travel bubbles to other high potential destinations based on the review from the National Security Council and the Health Ministry, before it was brought to the Special Covid-19 Pandemic Management Committee chaired by the Prime Minister for it to be considered.
According to her, under the domestic travel bubble project in Langkawi, the island received an estimated 100,000 visitors from all over the country between Sept 16 and Oct 15.
"The tourism spots have become active and given a positive impact not only to business entities, resulting in economic benefits to other sectors and good development to the local community," she said.