The state government of Penang, Malaysia, has expressed hopes that the Penang International Airport (PIA) will be included in Malaysia's upcoming Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement with Singapore, Bernama reported.
Penang state official Yeoh Soon Hin, handling tourism and creative economy, stated in a press release that PIA's inclusion in the VTL would be a "strong anchor" to attract more air traffic from Singapore.
According to Yeoh, the international air route between Changi International Airport and the PIA recorded 107 flights per week during pre-pandemic times in November 2019, a figure he believes the Malaysian government should take into account.
In terms of public safety and industry preparedness, he mentioned that 99 per cent of the adult population in Penang has been fully vaccinated, while 83.1 per cent of the state's total population has been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 9.
As of Nov. 12, the number has increased slightly, with 99.2 per cent of the adult population and 83.3 per cent of the total population fully inoculated.
Including PIA in VTL could "double the pace" of economic recovery
Yeoh welcomed the launch of the VTL and said it was "groundbreaking moment" for Malaysia's international tourism market, which he claimed stagnated since March 2020 due to the pandemic.
According to data from Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia welcomed only 4.33 million tourists in 2020, which is an 83 per cent decrease compared to the 26.1 million in 2019.
Meanwhile, receipts from tourists shrank by 85 per cent, from RM86.1 billion (S$27.9 billion) to RM12.7 billion (S$4.12 billion).
Yeoh added that the arrangement could "double the pace" of economic recovery and reboot battered industries such as tourism and the food and beverage industry.
Yeoh further stated that the inclusion of PIA in the arrangement could boost the economies of neighbouring states such as Kedah, Perak, and Perlis.
Additionally, he opined that launching the VTL in two different international airports in Malaysia will benefit the country with a balanced economic recovery.
“As a manufacturing hub boasting the label as the Silicon Valley of the East, introducing VTL in PIA will also see benefits to our manufacturing landscape that comprises an arsenal of multinational companies,” he added.
Top image via @ctynattyhere/Unsplash & Yeoh Soon Hin/Facebook