KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 2): The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has slammed calls by certain quarters to shut Malaysia's borders to tourists from China as "irrational and irresponsible" after the republic announced that it will resume outbound travel.
“Since the re-opening of our borders in early 2022, our country has been making steady, positive progress towards recovery and any knee-jerk reaction to re-introduce restrictions without proper planning risks undoing all that we have achieved,” said Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang in a statement on Monday.
“Matta has complete faith in the Ministry of Health Malaysia in managing Chinese arrivals just as they have done with other travelers from all over the world.
"The government’s decision should balance the health and wellbeing of the people and Malaysia’s reputation as a safe destination as well as the economic ramifications of its policies in this matter.
"It must also benchmark with current global practices while considering its own capacity and limitations rather than bow to lobbyist groups," he said.
Matta cited data from Tourism Malaysia which showed that China was the third-largest source of Malaysia's international arrivals in 2019, with 3.1 million tourists visiting that year.
"Initial estimates indicate that 1.2 million Chinese will travel to Malaysia in 2023 which is expected to generate approximately RM3.6 billion in tourism receipts," added Tan.
He added that travellers from China will not arrive all at once, allowing the government to monitor and manage the situation as it develops.
“To that end, the national travel association will provide feedback to help the government tackle and manage this process as it unfolds,” he added.
Several parties have called for the government not to allow travellers from China into Malaysia following a surge in coronavirus infections after Beijing ended its zero-Covid policy.
PAS had called on Putrajaya to temporarily freeze the entry of travellers from China, saying the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia was due to the government not imposing measures to prevent potentially infected foreigners from entering the country.
Meanwhile, the Malaysia Tourism Agency Association (Mata) also urged the government to suspend the entry of China tourists until cases in the country decline, citing concerns over the emergence of new coronavirus variants due to the spike in infections.
Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii, on the other hand, called for more stringent travel requirements on China tourists, which include vaccinations, RT-PCR testing two days prior to travelling, RTK-Ag testing upon arrival, and quarantining at designated facilities for a week, with samples sent for genome analysis.
The Health Ministry had announced that it will check the body temperatures of all inbound travellers, including those from China, and those found to have a fever and other symptoms will be tested for Covid-19.
In addition, it will also test the wastewater from planes arriving from China for Covid-19 and will send positive samples for genome sequencing.