SINGAPORE: Malaysia, which has long been among the top vacation choices for Singaporeans, is struggling to deal with an influx of visitors from its neighbor following the lifting of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Singapore and Malaysia share one of the world’s busiest land borders, but travel came to a halt in 2020 as both countries shut their doors to curb coronavirus transmission.
Since reopening on April 1, more than 600,000 Singaporeans have traveled to Malaysia, according to the Malaysian tourism ministry, which is hoping to welcome 2 million international visitors by the end of December.
More Singaporean travelers are also expected to arrive by rail, with cross-border railway services set to resume on Sunday.
“The situation now is slowly returning to the pre-pandemic period,” Nurul Hidayah, customer service operator of Malaysia’s main rail service, Keretapi Tanah Melayu, told Arab News.
Most tickets have already been sold out, she added.
Before the pandemic, tourism was responsible for more than 13 percent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product, and the country has been eagerly awaiting a revival of its hospitality sector. But now stakeholders realize they may not have enough hands to cope with the visitor influx.
Tourism Minister Nancy Shukri said last month that at least 15,000 additional workers are needed in the hospitality sector alone and the government will try to bring them from abroad.
“When the borders opened, suddenly there were a…