Plans to establish a travel bubble between Malaysia and Indonesia is being mooted, but the countries’ tourism bodies say that would first necessitate a series of measures to be implemented by both sides.
A Malaysia-Indonesia travel bubble would aid bilateral tourism between both countries in the post-Covid-19 era as both sides are highly dependent on tourism traffic from each other.
Malaysia is Indonesia’s top inbound market for 2019, while Malaysia received 3.6 million tourist arrivals from Indonesia last year, putting Indonesia as the second largest inbound market after Singapore.
Speaking at a recent webinar presented by Travel Industry Network on the collaborative opportunities between Malaysia and Indonesia post-Covid-19, Malaysia’s tourism, arts and culture minister, Nancy Shukri, expressed hopes that Malaysia and Indonesia would start bilateral discussions to enact a travel bubble with each other.
She said: “Consideration is placed on the aspects of health, immigration, data tracking and continuous monitoring by respective agencies in both countries.”
At the same webinar, Nia Niscaya, deputy minister for marketing, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia, described Malaysia as a “low-lying fruit” ripe with opportunities for further growth when the country reopens its borders to international travellers.
For now, there is no indication on when Malaysia and Indonesia will reopen their borders to foreign tourists, and the focus for both countries right now is on strengthening domestic tourism, with safety and hygiene protocols in place.
Nia shared that it was important for Indonesia to show that it had contained the Covid-19 pandemic well, and had maintained health, hygiene and safety measures in order to restore confidence among travellers from Malaysia and other international communities.
Last week, Malaysia’s health director-general, Noor Hisham Abdullah, told a press conference that they were in very early stages of discussions on the implementation of a travel bubble with Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
“We need to finalise the standard operating procedures and reach an agreement among the countries on several matters. The agreement has to be mutual and reciprocal,” the New Straits Times quoted him as saying. “This is to ensure that all countries that enter into the agreement follow the same protocol.”