Malaysia, Indonesia Agree to Start Vaccinated Travel Lanes
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia and Indonesia plan to allow fully-vaccinated travelers to fly between the two nations, just days after a similar agreement was struck in one of the world’s busiest air routes.
The Southeast Asian neighbors may start vaccinated travel lanes from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Jakarta and Bali, according to a joint briefing by Malaysia Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on Wednesday. The two countries aim to finalize and implement the plan early next year.
“Reopening borders safely is important in balancing between the need to open up and revive the economy and take care of the safety and control aspects of public health,” Ismail said in a statement after the briefing. The arrangement will prioritize fully vaccinated people traveling for official, business, medical or humanitarian reasons, he said.
The initiative would mark Indonesia’s first vaccinated travel lane, and Malaysia’s second, as the Southeast Asian neighbors move to ease Covid-induced border curbs. Malaysia is also in discussions with Brunei and Thailand to provide more quarantine-free travel options, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Twitter.
Malaysia and Indonesia still trail Singapore, which has opened travel lanes with several cities, mainly in Europe, North America and Australia. Thailand recently ended quarantine for inoculated visitors from more than 60 countries in the biggest reopening gamble in Asia.
Indonesia accounted for the highest number of international tourists after Singapore to Malaysia in 2019, with about 3.62 million visitors, according to the Malaysian tourism board. Arrivals slumped to 711,723 in 2020. Indonesian tourists spent nearly 13 billion ringgit in Malaysia in 2019, the biggest spenders after Singapore and China.
About three million Malaysians traveled to Indonesia in 2019, the largest group, according to the statistics office. The number dwindled to 980,000 last year as borders closed and travel virtually ceased.
Malaysia and Singapore this week agreed to start a vaccinated travel lane from Nov. 29. Malaysia’s rapid vaccination progress has allowed it to lift a ban on interstate trips for fully inoculated citizens, and the country is set to reopen the tourist haven of Langkawi islands to overseas visitors next week under a pilot project.
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