Kedah Tourism Committee chairman said it’s unfair to treat Chinese tourists differently when travellers from other countries experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases are allowed entry.
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After months of relentless lockdowns, China will finally reopen their borders and other countries are expecting an influx of Chinese tourists as a result.
This move has largely been met with wariness from many people, including Malaysians, who are worried that the arrival of tourists from China will cause a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Tourism minister Dato Seri Tiong King Sing was criticised when he called for a rational reopening of Malaysia’s borders to welcome Chinese tourists to revive the tourism industry.
Kedah Tourism Committee chairman Mohd Firdaus Ahmad pointed out that it’s also unfair to single out visitors from China when other countries that are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases such as India aren’t treated the same way.
Firdaus suggested imposing stricter health rules or standard operating procedure (SOP) for incoming visitors will be a better option rather than denying them entry, New Straits Times reported.
If there is no recommendation from health experts, what is the point of blocking (visitors from China)? If we just block visitors from one country, it is not fair, because other countries, including India, are also recording a high number of cases too. I believe it is important for us to heed the advice by experts from the Health Ministry.Kedah Tourism Committee chairman Mohd Firdaus Ahmad
He said visitors should be allowed to travel anywhere in the country if they tested negative for the virus, just like how it was done in the previous SOP.
On top of that, tourism players in Kedah, especially Langkawi, should also do their part in managing the Covid-19 threat, such as testing foreign visitors upon their arrival.
Langkawi Tourist Guide Association president Ardi Bahador said Langkawi needed to woo visitors from China to rejuvenate businesses.
This is because it’s still relatively quiet during the weekdays and attractions such as cruises are slowly returning but not as many as before the pandemic.
He suggested the government have visitors test themselves 48 hours prior to their trip and upon their arrival.
Ardi hopes that the Health Ministry, the Transport Ministry, and Tourism Malaysia would act fast with a clear SOP to ensure tourist arrivals in the resort island would not be affected.
To date, the two main Covid-19 variants, namely the BA.5.2. and BF.7, have been detected in Malaysia.
Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there was no data to link serious cases or deaths to both variants so far.
Previously, he announced that the sewage samples from aircraft arriving from China will be tested and there will be an increase in surveillance at international entry points.
Visitors entering the country will also go through temperature checks and symptomatic visitors will be referred to the health authorities.