Langkawi Welcomes First Batch Of Fully Vaccinated Tourists In September
After over a year of border closures, the Thai government introduced the "Phuket Sandbox" scheme, a calculated effort aimed to revive Thailand's tourism by reopening sunny Phuket to fully vaccinated tourists who are free to explore the island without having to quarantine upon arrival.
News of a similar Tourism Recovery Plan set to take place in Langkawi, Malaysia has created excited chatter over the past few weeks. On 9 September, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture officially announced that Langkawi will be launched as a pilot destination to be reopened to fully vaccinated local tourists beginning 16 September 2021.
Based on current plans, the domestic travel bubble will be established first before reopening international travel borders few months down the road. The Langkawi Travel Bubble signals the starting point of reviving domestic tourism and will be implemented with much caution to ensure the safety of all visitors.
[New Update] Travellers Have To Take PCR Or RTK Test Prior To Trip
A new announcement was made by the Ministry of Health on 15 September, stating that it is compulsory for travellers to take an RT-PCR or RTK-Antigent swab test prior to their trip.
The swab test procedure is compulsory for all adult travellers aged 18 and above and children aged between 7 - 17 (symptomatic screening will be done for children aged 6 and below taking into account their abilities to produce saliva).
Travellers can opt for one of the 3 following swab test procedures:
- Take a PCR or RTK swab test at any health facility within 48 hours before your departure date. Bring along your test results and present them when requested at the airport or ferry terminal.
- Purchase your own saliva self-testing kit and bring it along with you. Conduct the test yourself at designated screening sites at the airport or ferry terminal.
- Purchase saliva self-testing kits that will be available at screening sites in airports or ferry terminals. You can conduct the test on the spot and can continue with your journey if your test turns out negative.
SOPs For The Langkawi Travel Bubble
To establish a safe and smooth travel bubble in Langkawi, official SOPs will be lined out and adhered to closely. Here are some SOPs we know of so far according to the announcement made by the Ministry of Tourism Arts, and Culture on 9 September:
- The tourism bubble will be available for fully vaccinated individuals nationwide (with the exception of those in EMCO (PKPD) areas) who have received two vaccine doses for at least 14 days
- Children below the age of 18 who are not vaccinated are allowed to travel with fully vaccinated parents
- Tourists will be required to flash their COVID-19 vaccine e-certificate whenever stopped or requested by authorities
- Tourists are encouraged to keep receipts of booking confirmations (e.g: receipts of hotel, flight, or travel package booking) as proof that they are visiting Langkawi for travel and leisure purposes
- Trips can be made via flight or by land, but those who wish to travel by land will have to book their transportation via a tour agency
- Ferries will be allowed to operate at limited frequencies per day from Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis
- Most tourist attractions and activities (with the exception of spas) will be allowed to operate. This includes nature parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, galleries, theme parks, and a variety of activities such as watersports, jungle trekking, hiking, camping, island hopping, and more
- Facilities in hotels and homestays such as swimming pools, gyms, and lounges will also be allowed to open as usual
- Clear SOPs will be lined out to minimize the risk of outbreak and must be adhered to strictly by all local operators including tourists, tour agencies, transport operators, hotels, and more
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on industries across the globe, hitting destinations that rely heavily on tourism such as Langkawi hard. It is hoped that the reopening of Langkawi will help local operators regain their confidence and jobs after a long tourism drought, and signify light at the end of the tunnel.
A Gentle Reminder To Everyone
Nevertheless, with COVID-19 cases still on the rise in Malaysia, we'd like to urge everyone to always remain cautious when going out and about, regardless of whether you are vaccinated.
Do remember that even fully vaccinated individuals are susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, so be sure to keep your masks up, maintain your distance, and keep your guard up at all times! May we get through this battle together, soon. #kitajagakita
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