By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, June 25: The local tourism industry might be able to reopen as early as September, subject to people’s compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), said Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister (MOTAC) Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
She said while the National Recovery Plan announced by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin projects that Malaysia would only see social sectors to fully reopen from November onwards, she is optimistic that the tourism industry will be able to reopen much earlier.
“We want to open (the tourism industry) as early as possible in September because people are in dire need to reopen the sectors and rejuvenate the economy.
“We hope that the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to decrease so that it will build more confidence among the people (on the reopening of tourism industry),” she said at a press conference after visiting the first Tourism Sector Industrial Covid-19 Vaccination Centre (PPVI) at the Association of Churches Sarawak, Jalan Stampin here today.
To realise the opening of tourism sector by September, Nancy said one of the efforts was through the setting up of the PPVI to vaccinate as many tourism industry players as possible which would subsequently speed up the process to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19.
“Once there are more people being vaccinated, we will be able to rebuild confidence among the community at large. Even though it is not guaranteed that you would not get infected, but the degree of it (severity of infection) is not as bad as when you are not vaccinated at all,” she explained.
At the same time, State Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC) Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the setting up of the PPVI would assist Sarawak to achieve its herd immunity by end of August after about 80 per cent of its population has been fully vaccinated.
“About 2,000 tourism industry players have registered voluntarily through their respective employers for the four-day vaccination programme which is held from June 24 to 27. Of these, 321 tourism industry players have been successfully vaccinated on the first day.
“We hope to vaccinate about 500 people today (June 25) and 600 people for Saturday and Sunday (June 26 and 27),” he said, while adding that similar programmes are ongoing to vaccinate tourism industry players in other divisions like Sibu and Miri.
The PPVI at the Association of Churches Sarawak is the first PPVI for the tourism sector in the country which was initiated by MTAC in collaboration with MOTAC, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), Ministry of Health (MOH), Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and Timberland Medical Centre.
The PPVI has been coordinated through Protect Health Corporation (PHC) after approval has been obtained from the National and State Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF).
Under the programme, the private sector is required to prepare and fund their own qualified medical team and vaccination centre, while the vaccine will be supplied and delivered to them free of charge by the government.
Also present at the press conference were MTAC director Suria Charles Buas, MTAC permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee and Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Audry Wan Ullok. — DayakDaily