18 February 2022
Tourism players and businesses in Kedah’s tourism jewel lauded the government’s decision to extend the Langkawi International Travel Bubble (LITB).
They also hailed the government’s move to allow tourists to enter the island via domestic flights from Klia2, as it would attract more cost-cautious and group travellers to Langkawi.
“This is great news for tourism players in Langkawi such as travel agents, tour guides, hoteliers and product owners,” Ardi Bahador, Langkawi Tourist Guide Association president, told the New Straits Times.
“We wish to thank the government especially the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, the Immigration Department, the Health Ministry and the Langkawi Development Authority for responding to our calls in easing the entrance for cost conscious clients,” he added.
After a slow start of the LITB due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Ardi said it was crucial to entice cost-cautious visitors and group travellers to the island.
“Prior to this, tourists will have to pick up their luggage at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and have to check-in again before boarding a domestic flight to Langkawi, due to code sharing between different airlines.
“By allowing them to enter via Klia2, there will be less hassle for tourists to travel to Langkawi.
“We expect this will boost the arrival of travellers, including big group (larger than 10 people) bookings which will in turn help increase flight volume to the island,” he said.
This he said, would help Langkawi tour guides, who were mostly freelancers to improve their earnings, after being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic almost two years ago.
Ardi said the association also hailed the move to ease insurance policy purchase processes for tourists.
Langkawi Homestay Association chairman Mohtar Shabudin Ismail also commended the government’s move to revise the SOPs.
“Most of our guests are budget and group travellers besides those staying for an extended period, thus we really appreciate the move to revise the SOPs,” he said.
Mohtar said the move was also a great help for homestay operators following a slow start of the LITB due to the Omicron variant outbreak late last year.
While welcoming the decision to extend the LITB, Langkawi Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Lee Han Eng reminded all stake-holders to strictly observe the SOPs set by the government.
Lee said with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases nationwide, it was vital for tourists and tourism players to adhere to the SOPs.
“It is good for business but at the same time we are also concerned with the recent hike in Covid-19 cases.
“Thus, it is the onus of everyone in the tourism sector and also visitors to adhere strictly to the SOPs to contain Covid-19 transmissions,” he said when contacted.
Yesterday, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry announced that the LITB which was launched last November, be extended until the country’s borders are fully reopened.
The ministry, in a statement said the matter was decided by the Covid-19 Quartet Ministers Meeting after revising the standard operating procedures (SOP) based on the Health Ministry’s latest requirements on Feb 8.
The ministry also announced that starting Feb 22, foreign tourists can also enter the island via domestic flights from Klia2.
However, tourists are still required to purchase an insurance policy worth US$50,000 (Covid-19 and travel) for the duration of their stay.
This insurance policy can be purchased from a Malaysian or foreign insurance company before departure to Malaysia and can be packaged into a tourist package by tour operators or travel agents.
Under the latest SOPs, children aged 12 and below are allowed to enter the island with their fully-vaccinated parents or guardians, without having to show proof of vaccination while children below two do not have to undergo Cov
Under the latest SOPs, children aged 12 and below are allowed to enter the island with their fully-vaccinated parents or guardians, without having to show proof of vaccination while children below two do not have to undergo Covid-19 screening tests.
Fully-vaccinated tourists with boosters may now leave Langkawi on day five if they test negative for Covid-19 using the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test on day four, or using the Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK-Ag) on day five.
However, Malaysian citizens living abroad are exempted from this requirement.
The LITB started off as a three-month pilot project on Nov 15 last year to assess the readiness and preparedness of Malaysia’s tourism ecosystem to gradually receive international tourists in a safe manner.
According to the ministry, the LITB programme would be the benchmark for the reopening of Malaysia’s international borders.
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