KUCHING: More than 5,000 foreign tourists have made use of the Langkawi International Travel Bubble (LITB) to travel to Malaysia since it was introduced last November, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The Prime Minister said the bubble had generated over RM28mil in revenue to Langkawi's economy.
"In three months only, a total of 5,686 foreign tourists have benefited from LITB.
"Since its introduction, no Covid-19 clusters have resulted from the LITB travellers.
"Only 1% were found to be positive in Categories One and Two during screening at KLIA and Langkawi," he said when launching the Keluarga Malaysia Citrawarna programme during its gala night at the Kuching Waterfront on Saturday (Feb 26) night.
Also present were Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Ismail Sabri said the LITB was a pilot test on the readiness of the tourism industry and relevant government agencies for the new normal.
"Good feedback from those involved in the LITB gives the government confidence to continue implementing it until the nation's borders reopen fully," he said.
The Prime Minister also said cross-border movement was now allowed through Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangements with various countries.
"Besides Singapore and Indonesia, Brunei has agreed in principle to implement the VTL.
"This will not only revive Sarawak's tourism industry but boost the economy in Miri, Limbang and Lawas which are close to Brunei," he said, adding that Thailand was the latest country to agree in principle to the VTL.
On the RM85mil special assistance for tourism players announced in Budget 2022, Ismail Sabri said it would be paid twice - in March and May - to those registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.
He said the recipients included 10,000 tour guides who will get RM1,500 each, 5,592 tour agencies receiving RM9,000 each and 3,100 homestay operators receiving RM1,800 each.
"It is our hope that these initiatives will revitalise the tourism sector and make Malaysia a destination of choice among global travellers," he said.
The four-day Citrawarna programme, themed Festival of Cultural Diversity, is held by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry in collaboration with the Sarawak government to promote arts, culture and tourism activities.
The gala night featured cultural and musical performances depicting Sarawak's unity in diversity, a parade of decorated "perahu tambang" (river sampans), musical fountain show and fireworks display.
The event will come to a close with a Malaysian textiles fashion show and sape concert on Sunday (Feb 27) night.