Covid-19: M’sia one of the most hassle-free countries to visit in transition to endemic phase, says Nancy

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is one of the most hassle-free countries to visit in the transition to endemic phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said this included the further easing of standard operating procedures (SOP) starting May 1, 2022, where fully-vaccinated travellers including children aged 17 years old and below were no longer required to undergo pre-departure and on-arrival Covid-19 tests.

“Travel insurance is also not a prerequisite for foreigners entering the country,” she said at a networking dinner with the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) here Monday (July 18).

Nancy said Malaysia was currently aiming to raise awareness of the historical state of Melaka – one of the recognised Unesco World Heritage sites in the country and such an initiative hoped to further boost arrivals from Thailand.

“Thailand is like our (Malaysia’s) big brother and remains one of our essential short-haul markets,” she said.

Nancy added that in 2019, Malaysia welcomed more than 1.8 million arrivals from Thailand, and almost 70% of Thai tourists were repeat travellers who came to Malaysia for holiday, shopping, and to visit friends and relatives.

She said the top activities for Thai tourists were sightseeing in the cities, shopping and visiting historical sites including museums and the most visited states were Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Pahang.

“We (Malaysia and Thailand) are not only close to each other as neighbouring countries, but Malaysia is also a value-for-money destination,” said Nancy.

Speaking to reporters after the event, she said Malaysia targeted two million Thai tourists to visit the country by year-end.

Nancy said Malaysia may review its tourist arrivals again in September as the number of tourists coming into the country has been encouraging to date.

Malaysia initially targeted two million tourist arrivals since the country reopened its borders on April 1. The number was increased to 4.5 million tourists last month, with the main contributors being Singapore followed by India and Thailand.

Meanwhile, TTAA president Charoen Wangananont in his speech expressed his commitment to promoting Malaysia, especially Melaka, to the Thais.

Tourism Malaysia, in a statement distributed during the event, said a total of 97 delegates comprising TTAA members, tour operators and media were invited for a four-day, three-night familiarisation trip in Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands and Melaka from July 18 to 21.

The familiarisation trip aims to serve as a networking platform for TTAA as well as to gather knowledge on tourism product updates in Malaysia for dissemination to TTAA members and consumers. – Bernama