Malaysia’s Border Reopens, Sabah Is All Set to Welcomes Tourists
Kota Kinabalu, 31 March 2022: Sabah is ready to welcome international tourists to its shores once again, with the announcement of Malaysia’s anticipated border reopening on 1 April 2022. To support the success of this tourism development, a total of 54 Sabah tourism industry players have successfully applied for and been recognised by Travel Safe Alliance Malaysia (TSAM) for meeting tourism health and safety standards.
TSAM is a joint partnership among four key tourism industry players to step up tourism recovery efforts. The alliance membership is made up of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS) and the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG).
Sabah Chief Minister, YAB Datuk Seri Panglima Hj Hajiji Haji Noor, who launched TSAM at the Sabah International Convention Centre and presented certificates to TSAM recipients today, said: “TSAM complements the Sabah State Government’s efforts and strategies torevitalise the tourism industry by promoting Sabah as a trusted, safe and attractive tourist destination that caters to the modern traveller’s demand for health and safety.”
He also encouraged more tourism industry players in Sabah to subscribe to the TSAM certification programme to make Sabah an attractive tourist destination. “The certification is also a marketing and branding tool that you can leverage to sharpen the positioning of your product and service, and Sabah, in the eyes of the world,” he said.
Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of MATTA, said TSAM will continue to play its key role in aggressively promoting Malaysia as a travel-safe destination, with the re-opening of the international border for incoming tourists.
“TSAM is very glad about the borders being reopened and we will support and work with the authorities to ensure incoming tourists will experience a safe and healthy travel while in Malaysia. International tourists to Malaysia is an important market to sustain the overall tourism industry in our country,” Datuk Tan said.
Commenting on the number of companies from the different sectors in the industry receiving their TSAM certification today, Datuk Tan said: “On the part of MATTA, we will continue to push for more of our members in Sabah and elsewhere to be certified and to be fully prepared for the revival of the tourism industry.”
Captain Izham Ismail, Group Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Aviation Group, said that the group was committed to making Malaysia a safe travel destination: “As a responsible aviation player and travel service provider, Malaysia Airlines together with its sister airlines, Firefly and MASwings will continue to synergise with our travel partners by providing seamless, safe and hygienic travel experience for travellers, and support the state government to revive the tourism sector in Sabah.”
He added: “With our MHFlySafe campaign in full swing, we invite customers to fly confidently with us as we prioritise safety and hygiene across all consumer touchpoints –from check-in counters lounges onboard its flights and through to arrival.”
Captain Izham said that in conjunction with the reopening of borders, Firefly will provide connectivity between Penang and Kota Kinabalu with 7 times weekly flights, effective 11 April 2022. On top of that, Malaysia Airlines has also stepped up the Kuala Lumpur-Kota Kinabalu flight frequency from 45 in November 2021 to 70 times weekly to induce traffic flows and accommodate travellers’ increased “revenge travel” demand.
Meanwhile, MACEOS President, Mr. Francis Teo, expressed his thrill for the long-awaited border reopening. “It will undoubtedly hasten the tourism and business events' recovery with the lifting of mandatory quarantine. With Malaysia being one of the highest vaccination countries in the region, we are confident that international business travellers would prefer to visit Malaysia in attending Business Events. Our industry is ready to welcome back vaccinated international travellers in the endemic stage with the revival of Malaysian Hospitality,” he said.
He believed that it was an opportunity for Malaysia to demonstrate good practices for reopening safely to boost travel and business confidence after two years of uncertainty, and hoped that the entry guidelines would be made clear. “While it is important to make the entry process easy for travellers, the government should also make effective and clear messaging to ensure that travellers are well aware of the SOPs, testing and travel insurance requirements upon arrival. Travellers need to know the entry procedures such as downloading the MySejahtera app and that wearing a face mask is still mandatory in Malaysia,” he said.
Dato’ N. Subramanium, MAH President said that the hotel sector was pleased to play its role in ensuring a safe travel environment. He said: “Hotels are an integral component of international travel where hygiene and safety of guests are of utmost importance, this is why we at MAH launched the Clean & Safe Malaysia certification for hotels through Bureau Veritas back in July 2020. And from there we formed the Travel Safe Alliance Malaysia with our partners, MATTA, MACEOS and MAG. We are the complete ecosystem of safe travel for Malaysia.”
The alliance has a vision of assisting tourism and economic recovery by raising travel market confidence and prioritising safety and hygiene aspects across the industry including for hotels, food establishments, convention centres, tours, and transportation.