Malaysian holiday island to reopen to domestic tourists

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The usually lucrative sector has been hit hard by months-long restrictions on local travel and the closure of international borders as the country battles its worst wave of Covid-19.

But restrictions are slowly being relaxed and Langkawi has been chosen for a pilot project as the industry seeks to get back on its feet.

From September 16, hotels and businesses such as theme parks will reopen and beach activities will be allowed again, the tourism ministry said.

The move will boost “players in the tourism industry who have been affected by the shutdown of the sector,” the ministry said in a statement.

Requirements for those visiting Langkawi, a few miles from the southern border of Thailand, are still being worked out.

The island off the northwest coast of Malaysia, home to palm-fringed beaches, has long been popular with domestic and foreign visitors.

But officials did not say when foreign tourists, who are still not allowed to enter Malaysia, might be allowed to return.

In recent weeks, Malaysia has relaxed strict restrictions on fully vaccinated people, allowing them to freely engage in certain activities such as dining out.

Its vaccination rollout has accelerated, with nearly 66% of the adult population fully vaccinated, but infection rates remain high – authorities reported more than 19,000 cases and 330 deaths on Friday.

Neighboring Thailand has reopened several islands, including the Phuket hotspot, to vaccinated foreign tourists.


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