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Malaysians hold breath for interstate travel announcement

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 9): Malaysians, especially tourism industry players, are holding their breath for the government’s announcement on the lift of the interstate travel restrictions which is expected anytime soon.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was reported as saying that interstate movement will be allowed nationwide after 90% of the adult population have completed their Covid-19 vaccination.

And as of last night, Malaysia reported that 89.4% of its adult population have been vaccinated against the deadly virus.

Land transport operators and ferry service providers are among the earliest groups to make preparations ahead of the announcement as the cross-state clearance is expected to increase the number of visitors thronging tourist destinations in the country.  

To better manage the expected influx of tourists, ferry operators in Langkawi and Kangar are ready to increase the number of ferry trips plying between the two locations.

Konsortium Ferry Line Ventures Sdn Bhd human resources and operations manager Captain Baharin Baharom said currently the ferry service for the Kuala Kedah to Langkawi route only runs once a day and twice a day from Kuala Perlis to Langkawi.

He said tourists should be at the jetty two hours ahead of departure time to avoid congestion, to further facilitate the health and safety screening process that is required before they are allowed to enter the resort island, especially with the rise in the number of visitors to Langkawi.

In Pahang, an employee of the Teluk Gading Jetty Ferry Terminal (formerly known as Tanjung Gemok jetty) Nurhanim Mohd Jaaffar advised visitors to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, including observing the physical distancing rule and wearing a face mask.

She said frequent sanitation operations would be carried out at the jetty as well as in the ferries that would transport tourists to Pulau Tioman.

In Perak, most taxi operators in Pulau Pangkor are ready to receive tourists by ensuring their vehicles are in the best of condition and complying with the SOPs such as providing the QR code to the MySejahtera mobile application.

Perak branch of Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) chairman Hisham Yusof said he hoped the government would provide clear SOP guidelines in line with the SOPs issued by state local authorities so as not to confuse operators and tourists.

"It won’t do if Malaysians have been allowed to make interstate travel but the SOPs for state operators have not been issued, thus making us unable to operate," he said when contacted by Bernama.

In Kuala Lumpur, the country’s integrated transportation hub, Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) in Bandar Tasik Selatan is expected to experience a high volume of passengers once interstate movement is allowed.

Maju TMAS Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Roslan Shariff said the terminal operator expected a 50% rise in bus ticket sales per day compared to only 10% currently.

In Negeri Sembilan, Malaysian Chartered Bus Operators Association president Mohd Rofik Mohd Yusoff said its operators had made early preparations, including ensuring that all their buses were sanitised.

He said operators also provide body temperature scanners, disinfectant fluids and face masks, adding that they would also ensure that passengers follow the SOPs.

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