PETALING JAYA: The move to drop the Covid-19 tests over six days for travellers arriving in Malaysia from abroad has been lauded by the local tourism players.
Local travel operators said the move could help boost tourism and encourage more people to visit the country via the air and land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme between Malaysia and Singapore, Langkawi International Tourism Bubble (LITB) and One Stop Centre (OSC) for short-term business visitors.
Travellers need only to be tested two days before arrival and upon arrival. They no longer need to self-test on the 2nd, 4th and 6th days and be tested by doctors on the 3rd, 5th and 7th days.
Malacca Tourism Association president Madelina Kuah said they welcomed the move.
“Most airlines require travellers to get tested using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before boarding their flights. Once the test result is negative, it should be fine because the risk of infection is much lower,” she said.
Kuah said travellers should feel confident about the new guidelines as long as they follow the SOP, such as wearing face masks, using sanitiser and maintaining physical distancing.
Travel agency Go Tifi co-founder Datuk Indera Naresh Mohan said the move would allow international tourists to explore beyond Langkawi to other parts of the country.
However, he said it is too early to gauge how the move would impact the industry as the borders are still closed to most travellers.
Singapore-based Malaysian engineer Leong Chew Ping, who plans to return to Malaysia via the VTL, said he would still practise the daily tests to ensure his safety and those around him.
The 26-year-old, who is attending his university graduation ceremony in Sabah, said dropping the requirement would also undoubtedly help the older travellers who are not familiar with using the self-test kits.
“I think the move will encourage more people to travel to Malaysia, especially when they need not have to do daily self-tests and visit clinics for a supervised RTK-test on days three and seven,” said Leong.
Another traveller who wanted to be known as Sonia said that as a responsible traveller, she would adhere to the guidelines when visiting her family in Kuala Lumpur.
However, Langkawigo Escape Holidays managing director Mohd Fadhillah Mohd Rodzi said the move would impact tourist guides and rental car service providers as their services would be less needed now.
“When LITB was first introduced, it helped the car rental providers and tourists guides to get some income by assisting the visitors in getting their Covid-19 tests.
“However, their services will no longer be needed now, and thus would lose a source of income,” he said.
On Monday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said they dropped the requirement for travellers under the three programmes to undergo the Covid-19 RTK-Ag tests.
The existing SOP and protocols are still in effect for travellers who do not enter the country through the three programmes.