International visitor numbers to Malaysia will likely drop by 75 per cent in 2020 compared to last year, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Nancy Shukri, said on Wednesday.
“We are expecting the recovery to begin in the second quarter of next year, but this is just a forecast,’’ the minister said while answering questions about the sector in Malaysia’s parliament.
International travel has plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with countries closing borders and airlines cancelling flights.
Shukri said the collapse had hit the sector hard even before the outbreak spread globally, with arrivals dropping by over 40 per cent during the first quarter of 2020 after the first cases emerged in China and neighbouring countries.
Malaysia blocked tourists from entering from March 18 as part of a lockdown imposed to contain a local spike in coronavirus infections.
Though the lockdown ended on May 4, the border will remain largely closed until, at least, Aug. 31.
Defence Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, on Tuesday, stated that foreigners living in Malaysia, who leave the country on holiday, would not be readmitted immediately.
Malaysia typically attracts the second-highest number of foreign visitors in South-East Asia, after Thailand, with tourism making up between 10 and 15 per cent of gross domestic product.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has reported a total of 8,734 coronavirus cases, of which over 8,500 are listed as recovered.
There have been 122 coronavirus related deaths. (dpa/NAN)