Malaysia aims to reopen to international tourists in November, and travelers from neighboring Singapore could be among the first to be allowed into the country, Malaysia’s tourism minister told CNBC.
Minister Nancy Shukri said she was meeting with Singapore officials next week to discuss resuming cross-border travel between the two countries. She added that Malaysia would open up to Singapore “very soon”.
âWe’re open (to) Singapore as long as Singapore is open to us as well,â Nancy told CNBC’s âStreet Signs Asiaâ Thursday.
When asked when an arrangement with Singapore would be made, the minister said she was “very optimistic that it should be by November”.
CNBC has contacted the Singapore government for comment, but has not received a response.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 300,000 people crossed the land border between Malaysia and Singapore every day, while the air route between Singapore and Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, was one of the busiest in the world. world.
Currently, Malaysian citizens working in Singapore and Singaporean citizens working in Malaysia can cross the land border under a bilateral agreement – called periodic commuting arrangement – if they meet certain requirements.
Apart from this program, those allowed to enter Malaysia include its citizens, those who have diplomatic passports and those who have approval from immigration authorities. All arrivals must undergo a quarantine of seven days if they are fully vaccinated and 10 days if they are partially or not vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Singapore has opened non-quarantine travel – with conditions – to vaccinated travelers from some countries like the US and UK – but not to those from Malaysia.
Singapore groups countries and regions into four categories based on the risk of Covid transmission, and defines its border measures accordingly. Malaysia is classified in Category IV, which includes places considered to be of the highest risk.
Ensure Malaysia is not ‘left behind’
The Malaysian tourism ministry has proposed to the government to allow fully vaccinated international visitors to enter the Langkawi resort from next month, said Nancy, the minister.
“This is what we have proposed, we will have to wait for the government announcement,” Nancy told CNBC. “We hope they pick it up from thereâ¦ we’re very optimistic that they’ll be okay with this.”
Neighboring countries including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia has relaxed some border restrictions for international visitors. And Malaysia doesn’t want to lose, said Nancy.
“We watch what other countries are doing and see where we can fit in, try to make sure that we are not left behind,” she said.
But the minister said people should remain cautious when moving around the country as Covid is still spreading. She added that Malaysian authorities were working on a package of measures, including quarantine rules for the reopening of borders.