Tourism Ministry exploring travel bubble with green-zone countries

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) is exploring the possibility of having travel bubble arrangements with green zone countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri. She said the ministry had held consultations with several government agencies and tourism industry players’ representatives to identify mechanisms to reopen cross-border tourism activities in a safe and systematic manner. The mechanisms being explored by the ministry include destination to destination or island tours in small groups specially for golf, diving, scuba, bird watching, hiking and caving activities. “Travel itineraries will first be approved by the authorities involved and travel arrangements will be made by licenced travel agency companies,” she said. Nancy said these were among initiatives contained in the Tourism and Cultural Recovery Plans in efforts to restore the country’s tourism sector. (Malay Mail)

Ekovest commits RM1.48bil investment to participate in Bandar Malaysia project

Ekovest Bhd said it will pay RM250mil as initial investment outlay to participate in the development of Bandar Malaysia through a joint venture with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH). Ekovest’s chairman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo owns a 63% stake in IWH. Ekovest said the estimated total investment commitment for the proposed participation and investment in the Bandar Malaysia project is approximately RM1.48bil. Subsequently, Ekovest will be required to commit an additional sum of approximately RM1.23bil over a period of time until year 2023. Ekovest and IWH have set up a joint venture company that will facilitate its participation in the Bandar Malaysia project. “The core strength of IWH and Ekovest complements each other as IWH will focus on the planning and implementation of Bandar Malaysia Project while Ekovest will focus on the infrastructure and constructions work component, in conjunction with another strategic partner, CRECM, for the Bandar Malaysia Project,” it said. (The Star Online)

eKasih to be upgraded

The National Poverty Data Bank System, also known as eKasih, will be upgraded to provide better data to the government, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The Prime Minister said the eKasih system, which was developed in 2007, was under the purview of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit. Muhyiddin said with the upgrading of the eKasih system, there would be more comprehensive information to help identify those in need, both in urban and rural areas. He also said these targeted groups would continue to be identified and given assistance under the Cabinet Committee on Poverty, which is currently chaired by him. “A sum of RM6.8mil has been allocated to upgrade the eKasih system next year, ” he said. The government had come up with various recovery measures to balance the economy, social and health needs of the people. Among them are the introduction of two Bantuan Prihatin Nasional under Prihatin and Kita Prihatin economic stimulus packages with a total allocation of RM18.2bil. (The Star Online)

Gamuda aims for RM10bil new order book

Gamuda Bhd is aiming for new order book of about RM10 billion for 2021, involving a combination of international and domestic infrastructure projects, according to group managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling. Of the RM10 billion, 50% will come from Australia while the remaining will come from Penang, Lin said. According to a statement, the group’s total outstanding confirmed order book stands at about RM7 billion from MRT2, Pan Borneo Highway and other existing smaller projects. Lin said in the statement that Gamuda has submitted tenders for three work packages in Australia, at A$2 billion (about RM6.04 billion) each, and targets to win at least one. Its remaining RM5 billion new order book target is expected to be derived from Penang land reclamation projects. (The Edge)

Thailand to open its doors to more tourists to boost industry

Thailand is set to open its doors to more foreign tourists in a bid to boost the tourism industry, which has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek said the cabinet today approved a plan to offer long-stay special tourist visa (STV) to visitors from all countries. Previously, under STV, only visitors from low-risk COVID-19 countries were allowed to enter the kingdom. However, she said the number of foreigners entering the kingdom was relatively low. Under STV, which kicked off in late October, foreign tourists can stay up to nine months in the kingdom, but must first undergo 14-day compulsory quarantine upon arrival and obtain health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment for the amount of US$100,000. Thailand, the first country outside China to report COVID-19 cases in January this year, halted commercial flights and banned foreign visitors in an effort to keep infections at bay. To date, Thailand has recorded 4,126 COVID-19 cases and 60 fatalities. (Bernama)

Thailand to greenlight entry of several types of inbound travelers - CGTN