Malaysia is considering easing its border restrictions in a bid to save its battered tourism industry. Any travel agreements will likely start with lower-risk countries in Asia-Pacific.
“We are now working at negotiating with countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and New Zealand which have been identified as green zones,” said Malaysia’s tourism minister Nancy Shukri, according to Malay Mail.
The Southeast Asian nation’s borders remain closed to most foreign visitors since the pandemic broke out in March and have helped limit the spread of Covid-19 domestically. This summer, essential business travel agreements were established with neighbouring countries including Singapore.
The border closure has proved to be challenging for many travel operators, with the local tourism industry predicted to lose more than 100 billion ringgit ($24.6 billion) this year. Flag carrier Malaysia Airlines is also expected to undergo restructuring.
In 2019, tourism accounted for 15.9 per cent of Malaysia’s GDP, with over 28 million travellers visiting the country.
This month, Malaysia also unveiled a ten-year plan to increase its competitiveness by 2030. The new vision calls for the country to be branded as an ecotourism destination, encouraging sustainable and inclusive growth, according to Reuters.