PETALING JAYA: With the restriction on domestic travel lifted, Malaysians are now emerging from their stint of staying at home with a renewed zeal to travel.
Frequent traveller Hasnor Alina Mohamed Hasnan will be headed to the beach of Pulau Kapas in Terengganu later this week.
Hasnor, 33, who is going there with her husband and six-year-old child, is relieved to be able to travel again.
The legal and compliance assistant manager travelled domestically once every two months and abroad once a year before the Covid-19 pandemic.
"I feel excited to be able to travel again, but at the same I have to adopt all the health and safety measures," said Hasnor.
She said wearing face mask and using hand sanitiser were a must, and that she would also avoid crowded places.
Aimi Nurhaneem Sohaimi, who is a frequent traveller, made travel plans as soon as restrictions on interstate travel and domestic tourism were lifted.
"I am excited! This has been the longest period of me staying at home without any outing," said the 33-year-old senior legal associate.
Aimi said she would be taking her three-year-old daughter to Tioman for a weekend break next month.
"I still feel a bit worried but I will practise the new norms as advised by the health authorities such as practising frequent hand washing," she said.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said bookings made via travel agencies were expected to increase with the lifting of the restriction on domestic travel.
However, demand is only expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels in the second quarter of next year.
"It's a long way to go," said Tan when contacted.
He said without foreign tourists, the local tourism industry would still be struggling.
"Malaysia is not a populous country like China, India or our neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
"We need the pre-Covid-19 level of 27 million foreign tourists, with tourism receipts of some RM80bil per year.
"Local tourism cannot survive on its own.
"Without foreign tourists, industry players will be operating below break-even point and cannot sustain operations in the long run," he said.
Meanwhile, some Malaysians are optimistic about the reopening of international borders by the end of this year.
Sue Yee, 39, said she and her family had not cancelled their trip to Japan, set for next January.
The housewife said the booking was made in January.
"We are relieved now that border restrictions are gradually being eased and the requirements for quarantine are also being relaxed," she said.
Sue said she would support the local tourism industry by visiting tourist spots in Penang, Ipoh and Cameron Highlands.
"We will take all the necessary precautions so that we do not fall sick," she said.
Meanwhile, various hotels in the country are throwing in special discounts, room packages and dining promotions to entice domestic holidaymakers.
The Lexis Hotel Group senior communications manager Nabil Jamil said they had taken various steps to fortify housekeeping and hospitality hygiene.
"We have also taken precautionary measures through the strict implementation of mandatory deep-cleaning on all high-touch areas by well-trained cleaning and housekeeping staff," he said, adding that they were all geared up to welcome guests to their resorts in Port Dickson and Penang.
Swiss Garden Beach Resort Kuantan director of sales and marketing Linda Evelyn Wong said the safety and well-being of guests and staff were top priorities.
"We have put in place the new normal lifestyle and introduce various safety measures such as temperature check and making hand sanitisers readily available to ensure a clean, safe and comfortable environment," she said.
In Johor, Legoland Malaysia Resort has been planning and preparing to welcome visitors from Thursday.
"Guests can expect to see new protocols and operational changes.
"Our hope is for the guests to feel reassured that their safety and hygiene will be taken care of throughout their vacation," said its divisional director CS Lim.