15 November 2021
The National Security Council (NSC) has been urged to expedite the release of the standard operating procedures (SOP) for the Langkawi pilot international tourism bubble.
Langkawi Tourism Association (LTA) chief executive officer Zainudin Kadir said the delay has affected the arrival of international tourists to the island, which was scheduled to begin today, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob last month.
“We have received complaints from travel agencies that they had to cancel bookings by foreign tourists, pending the release of a full SOP list from NCS on the international travel bubble.
“In addition, we are also still waiting for the government to decide on the list of countries approved under the pilot travel bubble.
“LTA is baffled by what is happening. We hope this issue will be resolved as soon as possible because 60 per cent of the tourism receipts in Langkawi is generated from the international tourists segment,” he told reporters after attending MySafe Langkawi campaign organised by Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) here today.
Zainudin also urged the government to add Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) as the second entry point for the country.
“For now Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the only entry point for foreigners but this is causing a problem for tourists from the Philippines and Thailand who are arriving via klia2,” he said.
Zainudin also called on the government to prioritise travel agents in Langkawi for the international travel bubble progamme.
“Some airlines have their own travel agents so bookings are made directly with agents registered with these airlines. As such, tourism players, especially travel agents in Langkawi, are not benefiting directly from the international tourism bubble initiative,” he said.
This, he said, is hampering the bid to revive Langkawi’s tourism sector, which had been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak early last year.
“We have 159 travel agencies in Langkawi registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (MoTAC), with six of them possessing outbound licences to handle flight tickets, hotel and transportation bookings for international tourists.
“I have raised this issue with MoTAC during an engagement session recently, so we hope the government will immediately revisit into this issue,” he said.
On the ‘MySafe Langkawi’ campaign, Zainudin thanked the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) for being proactive in engaging tourism players to educate travel agents and tour agents on their roles under the international travel bubble programme.
“This will boost confidence among international tourists that it is safe for them to travel to Langkawi,” he said.
Langkawi was initially opened for domestic tourism in a pilot travel bubble from Sep 16 for adults who had completed their Covid-19 vaccination.
On Oct 22, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Langkawi would reopen to fully-vaccinated international tourists under a pilot travel bubble project.
International tourists are required to engage travel agency services to manage their trip into Langkawi. They are also subjected to Covid-19 screening prior to their departure and upon arrival in Malaysia.
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