Two-way travel lanes back on Malaysia’s agenda

KUALA LUMPUR, 29 October 2021: Plans for Malaysia and Singapore to establish special vaccinated travel lanes for those who travel between the two countries are gaining traction, the Bernama news agency reported yesterday.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said discussions involving several ministries from both countries are now underway.

Once the ink dries on the proposed new travel measures, the special vaccinated travel lanes would be announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

She made the comments at a press conference at the Parliament Building Wednesday.

In the meantime, Singapore has opened up quarantine-free travel with conditions to vaccinated tourists from several countries and most recently added Australia and Switzerland to the list. However, in most instances, the lanes provide easier travel one way inbound to Singapore, while discussions between Singapore and Malaysia would open two-way traffic.

Malaysia’s tourism minister said all tourism industry players were ready to receive foreign tourists and would ensure that all the standard operating procedures were in place before the country test drives reopening for international visitors on 15 November.

Malaysia plans a trial run starting 15 November that will open Langkawi to international tourists, but strict rules apply in addition to it being limited to just vaccinated travellers. Langkawi will lead the pilot scheme for three months to test if the safety measures are sufficient and attract international travellers.

For starters, the island will allow visitors to enter without quarantine as long as they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for Covid-19 on arrival. They will have to buy a tour package from a registered travel agency to ensure they are high-yield travellers and will need to stay for at least three days on the island initially.

Langkawi gained recognition as one of the top 10 islands in Asia in the recent Condé Nast Traveller ranking based on reader scorecards. Appearing sixth on Asia’s top 10 island list, it performed stronger than islands in neighbouring Thailand, but the top spot on the 2021 leader board went to Siargao Island in the Philippines.

Asia’s top islands

  • Siargao, Philippines 97.77
  • Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia 97.67
  • Palawan, Philippines 97.54
  • Bali, Indonesia 94.37
  • Sri Lanka 94.32
  • Langkawi, Malaysia 93.96
  • Koh Samui, Thailand 93.33
  • Boracay, Philippines 93.26
  • Phi Phi Islands, Thailand 91.83
  • Phuket, Thailand 89.79