Expanding land VTL to more travellers can boost Johor economy, say business and tourism groups

All Malaysian and Singaporean citizens would be able to cross the Causeway via the land VTL from Dec 20. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The expansion of the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) for land crossings to all Malaysians and Singaporeans will bring Johor closer to a full economic recovery, said commerce groups in the southern Malaysia state.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneur Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said the land VTL had already helped to spur the economy, with many businesses finally seeing improvements.

Businesses have been seeing positive signs since the land VTL was implemented, he said. "I believe we could see more improvements after Dec 20 as more people will be allowed to travel."

On Tuesday (Dec 14), both countries announced that all Malaysia citizens and Singapore citizens would be able to cross the Causeway via the land VTL from Dec 20.

However, Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Ministry said travellers were still required to be fully vaccinated and unvaccinated children below the age of 12 had to be accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians, adding that travel will still be limited to only bus transport.

When the land VTL first launched on Nov 29, entry into Malaysia was limited to Malaysians, permanent residents and long-term pass holders.

Mr Hussein added that his own restaurant had seen an increase in sales of about 60 per cent since the land VTL started.

"The only problem now is the lack of manpower to manage the increase in customers. I hope the government can speed up efforts to bring in more foreign workers," he said.

Johor Indian Petty Traders and Small Business Association chairman D. Ravindran said small businesses expect to see better sales once the land VTL was opened to all categories of travellers.

"For now, we do not really see significant changes as a majority of those coming here are workers in Singapore who are back to meet their families. Many are also not from Johor Baru or even Johor and would go back to their home towns.

"However, once the land VTL is open to all categories, we may be able to see better results as there will be more people coming to shop or travel in Johor," he said.

Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman Jimmy Leong said the opening up of the land VTL to all categories of travellers was happening earlier than expected.

"We did not expect this to happen this early. We thought such a move would only be made next year.

"It is definitely a welcome move. However, it will take some time for the tourism sector to really benefit as we expect those coming here to still be Malaysians who are returning to meet their families," he said.

"It is definitely a welcome move. However, it will take some time for the tourism sector to really benefit as we expect those coming here to still be Malaysians who are returning to meet their families," he said.

Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim said the tourism sector here was currently doing well lately with hotels in Johor achieving 70 per cent take up rate since November.

"Local tourism activities have been increasing in the past two months, especially with the holiday season.

"I believe that with the new development on the VTL-Land, we will slowly be able to see more Singaporean tourists coming back to visit their favourite destinations such as Johor Baru, Kota Tinggi, Mersing and Kukup in Pontian," he said.

Tourism Johor director Suhairi Hashim said the tourism sector here was currently doing well, with hotels in Johor achieving a 70 per cent take-up rate since November.

"Local tourism activities have been increasing in the past two months, especially with the holiday season.

"I believe that with the new development on the VTL-land, we will slowly be able to see more Singaporean tourists coming back to visit their favourite destinations, such as Johor Baru, Kota Tinggi, Mersing and Kukup in Pontian," he said.

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