The Johor government is hoping to turn three focus areas in the state which have achieved the Covid-19 vaccination rate of more than 80% into destinations under the tourism bubble programme.
State Tourism, Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said discussions have been held with Tourism Johor for the federal government, through the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, to consider the matter.
He said the three focus areas involved are the district of Muar, Mersing islands and Desaru Coast in Kota Tinggi district.
According to him, the Mersing islands, also known as the “Maldives of Malaysia”, has achieved 100% vaccination rate. All 594 of its population who are eligible for the vaccination – including resort employees – have been vaccinated.
“Muar, which is famous for its beautiful panorama, historical buildings and delicious food, achieved the herd immunity on Sept 4 when 84.24% of its population, or 168,396 residents, received full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said in a post on his Facebook page earlier this week.
He added that Desaru Coast, recently named by Time magazine as one of the “World’s Greatest Places of 2021”, has achieved 91% vaccination rate.
Onn Hafiz said Tourism Johor and tourism industry players in the state welcomed the initiative announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and hoped that the federal government could consider including the three Johor areas in the programme.
He said the initiative would give some reprieve to the tourism industry which has been gloomy since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ismail Sabri recently announced that Langkawi will open to locals under a travel bubble plan from Sept 16, while other destinations will be allowed to operate when the locality’s vaccination rate hits 80%. – Bernama
Attractions and experiences
Here are some of the places to check out and experiences to try in Muar, Mersing and Desaru Coast in Johor, if the tourism bubble plan goes well. Please note that the reopening of tourism businesses will be at the discretion of the local authorities, so some places/activities listed may not be immediately accessible.
Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque – Also known as Masjid Jamek Muar, this beautiful mosque is adjacent to the palace of the Sultan of Johor, which is located by the Muar River. It was built in 1925, and took five years to complete.
Muar Clock Tower – You can find this clock tower that doubles as a roundabout in Padang Nyiru. It is a Muar landmark, and can often be seen in social media as a background for selfies.
Glutton Street – Located at Jalan Haji Abu, Glutton Street is where locals and tourists would go to find good food. A must have? Otak-otak Muar, of course.
Murals – You can find numerous murals around this quaint town, including one by Russian artist Julia Volchkova called The Loving Sisters.
Island hopping – The coastal town of Mersing is where one would go to take a ferry or chartered boat to the nearby islands. There are several beautiful islands to visit, and some ferry services offer attractive island hopping packages.
Air Papan Mersing – This beach on the mainland of Mersing is only a few minutes’ drive away from the jetty. It’s a popular place with locals, and a good place to hang out while waiting for your ferry.
Seafood restaurants – You can’t go to a coastal town and not chow down on fresh seafood. There are plenty of restaurants and stalls that specialise in seafood meals in Mersing to choose from.
Gunung Arong – Feel like a hike? Try Gunung Arong, which stands at 240m. It’s a moderate climb, and you get a stunning view of Mersing and the surrounding islands from the peak. Remember to get a permit from the Forestry Department (Endau office) before you go.
Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast – Opened in 2018, this theme park features many exciting water-based activities and rides, including one of the world’s biggest tidal wave pools.
Resorts and hotels – Desaru Coast is home to a handful of exclusive resorts and hotels, including One & Only Desaru Coast, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas and Hard Rock Hotel. Each of these resorts has its own unique offerings for guests.
The Els Club – This premiere golf club is located right by the beach so you can get a gorgeous view of the South China Sea while playing.
Desaru Coast Riverside – A one-stop centre for tourists to shop and get some entertainment. Lots of retail outlets and restaurants to try here, and there’s an amphitheatre too.