India and Malaysia open their borders


India is completely reopening its doors to foreign visitors after the country started accepting travelers on charter flights last month.

The measure entered into force on Monday. People must test negative before leaving for India, and some must present a coronavirus vaccine certificate. Travelers can enter India without quarantine, with the exception of those from designated countries.

But since many scheduled flights to India have been suspended, travelers from only about 20 countries with special flights can actually enter.

The managing director of a travel agency in New Delhi said it will take time for the travel industry to get back on its feet.

Kapil Goswamy of Trans India Holidays said the tourism industry was “extremely excited” by the move. He said the industry expects businesses to fully recover to 2019 levels by the winter of 2022.

Meanwhile, Malaysia opened the popular resort island of Langkawi to international tourists on Monday as part of a travel bubble. Foreign visitors can stay at least three days without quarantine provided their PCR test before arrival is negative.

The first day of opening saw no foreign tourists, but they are expected to arrive later this week. The local tourism industry is eager to warmly welcome overseas customers.

The owner of a local ice cream shop, Lufi, said she was happy to know that foreign tourists can finally visit Langkawi. She said that means her business could finally get back to normal.

The tourism authority is targeting at least 5,000 international arrivals to the island by the end of next month. The government will run the pilot for three months to check its effectiveness before deciding whether or not to exploit bubbles in other tourist areas.