‘Extras’ for holidays abroad

PETALING JAYA: Planning for a holiday during the pandemic requires some “extras” that did not exist before the outbreak of Covid-19.

Travel insurance – for Covid-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs – is a must when visiting some countries.

“You have to have insurance because in a lot of countries like Turkey, you can’t be admitted at any clinic or any hospital if you don’t have any insurance coverage. Insurance is a must and you need to choose an insurance company carefully,” said Malaysian Tourism Council president Uzaidi Udanis.

“We don’t want to be stranded in other countries where we have to pay large sums. We cannot claim back from there,” he said.

Uzaidi, who is also the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president, said that in order to enjoy a smooth trip overseas, tourists should book the trip through a travel agent.

He said travel agents are better informed on such matters, therefore it is best to seek their advice.

Uzaidi also advised those who are looking to make a trip abroad to check on the latest travel requirement and advisory issued by the consulates of the countries they are heading to, including the types of vaccines accepted, as these requirements change from time to time.

“The best way is for Malaysians to check with the embassies,” he said.

Aside from that, he said travellers should comply with standard operating procedure (SOP) such as the wearing of face masks. They should also avoid crowded places.

He said travellers should also ensure that they take care of their health by having the necessary vitamins and supplements as well as medicines.

Agreeing with Uzaidi, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Outbound vice-president Cynthia Tan said it is best to study what the costs and options of insurance coverage are like including those for Covid-19 treatments.

She said this requirement varies according to country.

“I really urge those travelling to go through a travel agency because they are well informed of all these requirements,” she added.

For instance, she said, going through travel agents will be helpful in case a person contracts the virus while abroad and needs help in dealing with authorities there.

She said while bookings for trips have yet to pick up, there is a lot of interest from customers.

Countries that may be popular choices among travellers are countries that have relaxed their SOP and opened their borders such as those in the European countries, said Tan.

Meanwhile, Uzaidi said long haul destinations are popular with travellers.

“Over the past two months, long haul countries like Turkey, Dubai, Switzerland and of course the UK (are preferred),” he added.

He said travel to Asean countries may pick up once they are fully opened to Malaysians.

“We tour agents are marketing aggressively currently,” he said.

He said tour agents are also expecting at least two million tourist arrivals to Malaysia.

However, he said the increase in fuel prices as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has led to surcharges being imposed by airlines.

This he said, will increase the cost slightly.

Visitors as well as Malaysian returnees who are fully vaccinated are not required to undergo quarantine upon arrival. They must, however, undergo an RT-PCR test two days before departure and a rapid test (RTK) upon arrival.

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