11 November 2021
Penang has urged Putrajaya to include the Penang International Airport (PIA) in Bayan Lepas in the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement between Malaysia and Singapore that is set to take effect from Nov 29.
According to state Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, PIA’s inclusion in the Malaysia-Singapore VTL will be a strong anchor to attract more air traffic from Singapore, which will in turn boost Malaysia’s economy, particularly for Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak.
“(With Penang) as a manufacturing hub boasting the label of the ‘Silicon Valley of the East’, introducing the VTL in PIA will also see benefits to our manufacturing landscape that comprises an arsenal of multinational companies,” he said today.
On Monday, both Malaysia and Singapore agreed to the setting up of a VTL between the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Changi International Airport.
The VTL would allow people who were fully vaccinated to travel between the two countries and be subjected to Covid-19 tests in lieu of quarantine or stay-home notices.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, had both said that they look forward to restoring land travel links between both countries.
Elaborating, Yeoh said the launch of the VTL between these two nations marked a ground-breaking moment for Malaysia’s international tourism market that has stagnated since March 2020 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the launch of the VTL in the KLIA was much welcomed but believed the PIA should also be included considering its position as an important gateway to northern Peninsular Malaysia.
“Launching the VTL in the two cities concurrently can double the pace of economic recovery and reboot our battered industries, particularly the services sector that comprises food and beverage, hotels, tourism operators and others,” he added.
Touching on public safety and industry preparedness, Yeoh said Penang’s adult population vaccination rate is at 99 per cent and 83.1 per cent for the total population as of yesterday.
He noted that most of Penang’s tourism frontliners had been fully vaccinated through tailored vaccination programmes since July this year.
Meanwhile, Yeoh shared that the international air route between Changi International Airport and PIA recorded 107 flights per week during the pre-Covid-19 days in November 2019, which he believed was a commendable figure that must be considered by Putrajaya.
“Launching the VTL in two different international airports of the country will ensure a balanced economic recovery and benefit the nation as a whole.
“Putting the PIA in the VTL list doesn’t only benefit Penang, but also other neighbouring states, which are all dependant on PIA as the only international airport for traffic and business opportunities,” he said.
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