Malaysia considers travel bubbles from next month

Malaysia is considering creating travel bubbles with 10 countries, including some ASEAN members, from next month, according to Tourism Minister Nancy Shukri.

The move comes after Thailand announced quarantine-free entry for fully-vaccinated visitors from 45 countries, including Cambodia, would start on Nov 1.

Malaysia shut its borders to foreign tourists two years ago because of the Coronavirus. Shukri told Nikkei Asia the bubbles would allow foreign tourists to visit the island of Langkawi and parts of southern Johor, on the border with Singapore. Langkawi reopened to domestic tourists on Sept 16.

Singapore already opened up to vaccinated visitors from Germany and Brunei, extending the scheme to Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain and the United States last week. It will add South Korea in mid-November.

Cambodia is also easing travel restrictions and started issuing three-month e-visas to tourists on Oct 16. Fully vaccinated travellers have to quarantine for seven days, or three in some circumstances. Currently Cambodia only accepts flights from China, South Korea and Singapore.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has already floated the idea of an ASEAN-plus China travel bubble. He will have the final say on which countries Malaysia allows in, as chairman of the National Security Council.

Malaysia has fully-vaccinated around 76 percent of its population. There have been more than 2.4 million infections in the country and in excess of 28,300 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began. Malaysia discovered its first Coronavirus infection in March last year.