Langkawi is Reopening to International Visitors

The popular Malaysian island destination will be welcoming tourists from all countries from November 15.

Langkawi’s coconut palm–fringed Cenang Beach. (Photo: karnizz/iStock)

Malaysia will be cranking open its doors to allow limited quarantine-free travel in just a few weeks’ time, thanks to the upcoming launch of an “international tourism bubble” on Langkawi. Top officials say the pilot scheme is slated to run for three months from the start date of November 15; health authorities will then evaluate its effectiveness before expanding it to other tourism destinations around the country. It has not yet been disclosed whether holidaymakers can travel elsewhere in Malaysia after spending a certain number of days on the island.

Langkawi will initially reopen to fully vaccinated “high-yield” visitors who are staying no less than three days and have medical insurance of at least US$80,000. Foreign vacationers cannot travel independently under the plan; instead, they must use the services of a tour operator or agency registered with Malaysian tourism authorities. Those under the age of 18 will have to be accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians, and all travelers are required to download and register the MySejahtera contact tracing app before the trip.

Foreign tourists must go through several rounds of coronavirus testing at their own expense, including a pre-departure PCR test no more than 72 hours before leaving their home countries. Visitors transiting at Kuala Lumpur International Airport will need to take an on-arrival rapid test, while those flying straight to Langkawi are required to take a PCR test on the second day of their stay. Foreign nationals planning to remain on the island for more than five days will be subject to further testing on the fifth day.

According to a report in the Malay Mail, Malaysia’s tourism minister Nancy Shukri told reporters yesterday that Langkawi would be welcoming travelers from all countries, a major shift from last Friday when officials said a list of approved countries would be drawn up by the immigration, health, and foreign ministries. Shukri added that the Malaysian government could not afford to wait too long to reopen to foreign visitors, as the livelihoods of local tourism workers were at stake.

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