Omicron not a deterrent for tourism, say industry players


JOHOR BARU: Tourism industry players believe that travel can still move forward with strict adherence to standard operating procedure and vaccination shots amid reports of Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant.

Malaysia Tour Guides Association president Jimmy Leong said the country’s experience in dealing with other variants of concern (VOCs) were important as this provided guidelines for the government and industry players to tackle Omicron.

“This will help us in implementing stricter and appropriate measures to avoid the spread of Omicron in the country,” he said.

He believed that the opening up of the tourism industry as well as the implementation of the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL-Land) between Johor and Singapore would not be affected by the new variant if the standard operating procedure was strictly adhered to.

He urged Malaysia to continue working closely with Singapore in a joint effort to prevent the Omicron variant from reaching both countries.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said the Covid-19 situation had changed now that the majority of the local population had been fully inoculated.

“I believe the tourism sector can still move forward despite the Omicron variant but it will definitely slow down the progress,” Teo said.

Asked if the new variant would derail plans for the holiday season, he noted that this would only happen should the Omicron variant spread widely.

“As hoteliers, our priority is to protect the public. So, if there is an outbreak of the variant, we have to put our plans on hold,” Teo said.

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