India, Malaysia open up borders

India is fully reopening to overseas visitors after the country started accepting travelers on chartered flights last month.

The measure took effect on Monday. People must test negative before they depart for India, and some must show a coronavirus vaccine certificate. Travelers can enter India without quarantine except those from designated countries.

But since many regular flights to India have been suspended, travelers from only about 20 countries operating special flights can actually enter.

The managing director of a travel agency in New Delhi said it will take time for the travel industry to get back on its feet.

Kapil Goswamy of Trans India Holidays said the tourism industry is "extremely excited" about the move. He said the industry expects business to have fully recovered to 2019 levels by the winter of 2022.

Meanwhile, Malaysia opened Langkawi Island, a popular resort, to international tourists on Monday under a travel bubble. Overseas visitors can stay for a minimum of three days without quarantine on condition their PCR test before arrival is negative.

The first day of opening up saw no foreign tourists, but they are expected to fly in later this week. The local tourism industry is looking forward to giving customers from overseas a warm welcome.

Local ice cream shop owner Lufi said she was happy to know foreign tourists can finally visit Langkawi. She said this means her business might finally return to normal again.

The tourism authority is targeting at least 5,000 international arrivals on the island by the end of next month. The government will run the pilot project for three months to check its effectiveness before deciding whether to operate bubbles in other tourist areas.