Malaysia’s international borders reopened for the first time in two years today, witnessing a flood of international visitors eager to travel and vacation in the country after long months of pandemic-related constraints.
Speaking to reporters waiting at the KLIA arrival hall, travellers from as far off as Europe told of their excitement to be in the country after so long.
A Frenchman who introduced himself as Philip said the last time he had been in the country was two years ago, before Malaysia was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said he was very happy to be in Malaysia again, adding that he loved everything about it.
“The food is delicious, the weather is good, and the people are all very friendly,” he said.
“This is not the first time I have come to Malaysia, and I’m very excited to be back on the first day of the borders reopening.”
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced in early March that the country’s borders would be reopened as part of the transition towards the endemic stage of living with the Covid-19 virus.
The announcement was hailed by those in the tourism industry who said the return of international travellers would speed up the sector’s recovery as well as the country’s economic growth, especially in the second half of 2022.
Malaysia’s borders were closed after the first movement control order or MCO in March 2020 as part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus within the country.
A Palestinian traveller called Ahmad said he was thankful to finally be able to set foot in Malaysia after a long time.
“I have missed it very much as I have been away for a long time,” he said.
“I could have come back before but there was a lot of red tape to go through. Now I can come and visit my friends in Malaysia.”
Other travellers meanwhile came from countries such as Germany and Lebanon. While many had come to Malaysia for holiday, a number were also entering the country for business purposes.
“I am so excited to be back in Kuala Lumpur,” said a Lebanese traveller who introduced himself as Mustafa, adding that he intended to stay for more than a month.
“This time, I plan to go to all of the interesting places in the country.”