THE government is considering rolling out travel bubble arrangements from February 2021 to kickstart the bleeding tourism industry, one of the hardest-hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources in Putrajaya said under the plan, travellers from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan will be allowed into the country provided they tested negative for Covid-19 three days prior to departure.
“If the plan goes through, travellers from these countries will be tested again for Covid-19 upon arrival in Malaysia. Only if they are tested negative will they be allowed to travel.
“Those who test positive when they arrive will not be allowed to travel within the country,” the source said.
Tourists and industry players needed to adhere to strict Covid-19 SOPs to mitigate the risks of the virus spreading.
“There is no compromise on SOPs even if foreign tourists are allowed in. The lives and health of our citizens takes precedence,” the source added.
It is learnt that the eight countries are selected due to its low Covid-19 cases and more countries will be added later if the situation permits.
There is no decision yet on whether Malaysians will be allowed to visit those countries.
The proposed phased out opening up of the borders comes as tourism industry is said to have suffered losses of over RM100 billion since the start of the year.
Malaysia barred foreign tourists from entering the country in March following the coronavirus outbreak.
Singapore allows short-term visitors from Australia, Brunei, China, New Zealand and Vietnam to enter the republic and travel freely there. Singapore was also scheduled to launch a travel bubble with Hong Kong last month, but the plan has been shelved.