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SOP relaxation will help revive tourism sector, say industry players

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 17): The relaxation on standard operating procedures (SOPs), quarantine measures and interstate, as well overseas travel effective Oct 18 is set to kickstart the revival of the country's tourism sector, said Malaysian Association of Travel Agencies (MATTA) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun.  

He said the move would benefit several parties, especially the tourism sector as well as facilitate tourist travel.

"With the ease in restrictions, it means that we are prepared to adhere to the SOPs. This relaxation is important in efforts to revitalise the tourism sector because the move will bring positive economic outcomes.

"We need to follow in the footsteps of other developed countries where they allow their tourism sector to operate so that we are not left behind economically," he said when contacted by Bernama.

Mohd Khalid also encouraged the public to go on a holiday either locally or abroad but reminded that the SOPs must be strictly adhered to at all times.

"I recommend everyone to take advantage of this opportunity since travelling is already allowed but take heed of the SOPs which may differ from place to place.

“For example the SOPs set on board a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia maybe different, so passengers need to abide by their rules,” he said.

Elaborating, he said the recovery of the tourism industry would benefit various other sectors such as aviation, small businesses, services and the local economy which had been affected by the extended period of lockdowns due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Melaka Tourism senior manager Asmaliana Ashari said the lifting of travel restrictions was a necessity and a good move made by the government to help revive the tourism sector.

“The lifting of interstate and overseas travel restrictions will augur well for businesses too as the handicraft and hotel industries, as well as several other sectors, including rickshaw pullers, have suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic," she said.

She added that everyone must play their role and comply with the SOPs set by the Health Ministry (MOH) and the National Security Council (MKN), especially when new Covid-19 variants crop up.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the government's move to reduce the mandatory quarantine period could be adopted, following latest studies conducted within the country and abroad, based on the characteristics of the viral incubation period.

"According to the latest findings, the period of infection is usually between a week and 10 days, as such, if there are no symptoms, a 10-day quarantine period is sufficient," he said.

He added that currently, the nation’s vaccination rate had risen with 91.4% of the adult population fully vaccinated, while most of the active cases were not serious and so far, there has been no reports of new variants.

In addition, he encouraged Malaysians who are planning to travel abroad to ensure that they have overseas medical coverage as well as to take note of the health facilities and hospitals available for tourists.

On Friday (Oct 15), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced a reduced quarantine period for travellers returning or coming from abroad, as well as close contacts of Covid-19 cases effective Oct 18.

Based on the announcement, individuals who have completed the Covid-19 vaccination will undergo a quarantine period of seven days, while those unvaccinated or partially vaccinated will have to undergo a quarantine period of 10 days.

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