Malaysia is to relax most of the remaining COVID-related travel restrictions on May 1st, 2022, in time for its summer tourist season. Although the suspension of restrictions is encouraging news for the Malaysian travel industry, governmental authorities need to exercise some caution. The tourism industry in Malaysia has received a welcome boost thanks to the removal of travel restrictions, making travel to and from the country much easier.

Malaysians are becoming less apprehensive about the pandemic

According to GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 and Q4 Global Consumer Surveys, which focus on consumer attitudes toward COVID-19, Malaysian respondents are becoming less apprehensive about the pandemic. In Q1, 61% of respondents stated they were ‘extremely concerned’, and a further 33% said they were only ‘quite concerned.’ Whereas in Q4, 60% and 31% expressed the same sentiments, respectively. These results show that in less than a year, opinion is gradually shifting toward a more positive outlook regarding the pandemic. There has also been a large-scale vaccine roll-out, with 85% of the population having received the first dose, 81.7% receiving the second dose, and 49.1% receiving a booster dose, according to COVIDNOW. As such, Malaysian residents and businesses are more likely to be open to the idea of welcoming more inbound tourists.

Easing of restrictions signals a shift back to pre-pandemic travel

Daniel Bainbridge, UK & Europe Regional Director for Malaysia Airlines, commented that he was delighted to see that the Malaysian Government is removing all pre-entry and arrival testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. This has the potential to be positive for the Malaysian tourism industry, with other countries in Asia still maintaining their own unique set of travel restrictions. As a result, this move could enable Malaysia to gain an early competitive advantage over its Asian counterparts.

Adult travelers and children over the age of 12 will no longer be required to take a pre-travel test, or quarantine on arrival. On the ground, wearing masks outdoors will be made optional, and social distancing measures will be dropped. Some entry restrictions will, however, remain in place for unvaccinated travelers.

Balance is key for Malaysia’s tourism industry recovery

Although relaxing restrictions is good news for the Malaysian travel industry, governmental authorities need to exercise some caution and ensure contingency plans are in place. Measures to be removed include pre-travel testing and the requirement to wear masks in public areas from next month. However, with the threat of future COVID-19 variants, backup plans must be put in place. Moving forwards, it will be a balancing act for authorities as the world learns to live with the disease.

Malaysia Airlines is the only airline offering direct flights from the UK to Malaysia, and with international arrivals increasing dramatically since the border officially opened on 1 April, this further removal of entry requirements is an even clearer sign that Malaysia is fully open to the world. This means that Malaysia’s removal of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers could potentially make 2022’s summer tourism season a pivotal time for the Malaysian tourism industry.