KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): The opening of more tourism sectors in the country will very much depend on the success of the Langkawi travel bubble initiative, Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said.

He said as such, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and her ministry (MOTAC) would need to prove that the pilot project can be successful to convince the government to allow many other tourism activities to operate.

Hishammuddin said through the pilot project, the ministerial quartet on Covid-19 meeting wants MOTAC to outline the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that can be adhered to by the people and industry players, including the need to take a Covid-19 screening test before travelling to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Most importantly, those who go to Pulau Langkawi must be disciplined [on the SOPs] and are vaccinated. If this project (Langkawi) fails, we will not open other places.

“It is incumbent of Nancy and MOTAC to prove to us what they can do in Langkawi before we open other places,” he said at a ministerial quartet on Covid-19 special media conference in Parliament today.

Also present at the media conference were Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The government last week announced that domestic tourists who fulfill the SOP criteria nationwide, including states in Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (PPN), are allowed to visit Langkawi from Sept 16.

Asked about the evaluation criteria that will enable Langkawi to serve as a benchmark for the opening of other tourism destinations, he said the same conditions required for phase transition under the PPN, such as vaccination rates, hospital bed usage and the number of Covid-19 cases, apply.

“Where they are coming from and how they are coming to Langkawi, all that will be carefully looked into,” he said.

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