Tourism Malaysia is hopeful that cross-border tourism for leisure will reopen in stages sometime in the first quarter of 2021.
Its director-general, Musa Yusof, said in a local television programme recently that the tourism board was keen on resuming cross-border leisure travel with neighbouring Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia.
“What we mean by cross-border tourism is situations where one doesn’t necessarily have to get on a plane to travel here. We are looking at countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, and even, Indonesia. These are the four nations that we are examining and reviewing as to whether travel can be allowed,” he was quoted by the Malay Mail as saying.
Malaysian outbound agents whom TTG Asia contacted said they were getting packages ready in anticipation of the reopening of borders to outbound leisure travellers. Those interviewed opined that neighbouring countries will be the first to allow reciprocal leisure travel with Malaysia and predicted it would take place sometime next year.
Adam Kamal, head of procurement and domestic market at ICE Holidays, believes that Thailand and Singapore will be among the first to establish leisure travel bubbles with Malaysia, and is forging plans for that.
“We are in the midst of researching what packages will be sellable, and we think it will be to destinations where Malaysians can self-drive or travel by land such as Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai in Thailand, or Singapore,” he shared, adding that family and nature-based packages are likely to do well.
An agent from the southern state of Johor, Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager, New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, shared that he is repackaging existing tours to Singapore with accommodation at major hotel brands.
He explained: “International hotel chains have the marketing advantage to showcase what additional measures are in place in terms of hygiene and cleanliness protocols. Personal safety concerns during this pandemic is of utmost importance to guests.”
Looking ahead, he believes that Malaysian travellers will favour nature-based and soft adventure tourism, over shopping in malls, given the lower risk of Covid transmission associated with outdoor activities.