Malaysia readies to welcome Chinese travellers

Malaysia is gearing up to welcome Chinese travellers into the country from January 8, 2023, despite calls to temporarily ban the entry of travellers from China, which is dealing with an explosion of Covid-19 cases after the abrupt lifting of restrictions.

News agency Bernama reported that the Ministry of Health of Malaysia was prepared to change the existing Covid-19 pandemic management healthcare policy at the country’s borders, including the tightening the standard operating procedure (SOP) for health checks.

Malaysian tourism players are looking forward to the return of Chinese tourists to the country; Kuala Lumpur International Airport pictured

Health minister Saliha Mustafa said the extension of Malaysia as a ‘Local Infection Area’ until June will also give the ministry the leeway to deal with the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in China, adding that preventive measures and preparations to face any potential rise in cases will be stepped up.

Regardless, tourism players look forward to the arrival of Chinese tourists once more.

Lambasting those who opposed the reopening of Malaysia’s borders to Chinese travellers, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents’ (MATTA) president KL Tan said: “Outright calls to shut our borders to Chinese travellers at this very early stage are irrational and irresponsible. Since the reopening of our borders in early 2022, our country has been making steady, positive progress towards recovery and any knee-jerk reaction to reintroduce restrictions without proper planning risks undoing all that we have achieved.

“MATTA has complete faith in the Ministry of Health of Malaysia in managing Chinese arrivals just as they have done with other travellers from all over the world. The government’s decision should balance the health and well-being of the people and Malaysia’s reputation as a safe destination as well as the economic ramifications of its policies in this matter. It must also benchmark with current global practices while considering its own capacity and limitations rather than bow to lobbyist groups.”

Solidarity Association For Travel & Tours Agency Malaysia’s (SAFTTA) president, Fathir Badri Alhadad, shared that the country needs to consider the importance of how China can help to rebuild its economy before imposing any bans, adding that Malaysia needs China investors in order to further develop its national economy.

Instead, SAFTTA recommends that the government implement pro-active measures such as compulsory Covid-19 pre-departure testing of up to 48 hours before, Covid-19 screening upon arrival into the country and, if necessary, make it compulsory for Chinese travellers to quarantine for at least three days before allowing them to continue with their activities.

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