Continued travel restrictions in Malaysia hinder tourism recovery

Tour businesses in Malaysia are reaping little benefits from the resumption of interstate travel, limited to states that are under the recovery movement control order (RMCO), since March 10.

A major contributing factor is that the bulk of domestic travellers originate from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, which are still under the conditional movement control order that prohibits its residents from travelling to other states.

Interstate travel in Malaysia limited to between RMCO states; Batu Caves closed during MCO in January 2021 pictured

One of the conditions for interstate travel between RMCO destinations is that travellers must use a registered tour agency and a registered tour vehicle. Interstate travel on a personal capacity is still not allowed.

Mint Leong, managing director, Sunflower Holidays, shared that the agency has seen zero business since the resumption of interstate travel “as people from the Klang Valley are still not allowed to travel”.

She added: “Those staying in other states who are allowed to travel would use the services of travel agents from their home state, rather than get an agent from Kuala Lumpur to service them.”

Langkawi-based Mega Water Sports & Holidays director of sales and marketing, Sharmini Violet, shared that her company had received a small number of corporate group enquiries out of Kuala Lumpur for team-building activities in 4Q2021, “but no one has committed with bookings”.

She said: “Companies don’t dare make a booking now due to uncertainty as to when the government will lift the interstate travel ban for those living and working in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

“But when it is eventually lifted, we expect a boom in business. Currently, we are getting a trickle of bookings from FIT leisure travellers from Kedah and Perlis, and they usually request for one- or two-night packages.”

To support tour operators in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president, Uzaidi Udanis, held a discussion with the Selangor state government yesterday (April 8) on working together to identify and develop hidden gems in the state.

The inaugural joint workshop, due to take place on April 12, will train MITA agents on promoting and packaging of tourism products in Selangor.

Meanwhile, Tourism Selangor is initiating a campaign dubbed ‘Travel Selangor First’ to promote lesser-known destinations in the state and encourage those living in Selangor to explore their own backyard.

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