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SARAWAK is working on reopening for business events and tourism by the end of the year with the Malaysia Borneo state’s vaccination rates being the highest in the country.

More than 2,000 of Sarawak’s events and travel industry “frontliners” are expected to be fully vaccinated as the final phase of the three-day Industrial Covid-19 Vaccination Programme came to a close in the state capital Kuching on July 18.

Sarawak is the first state in Malaysia to have completed the programme, Business Events Sarawak said at a press conference.

“The prospect of reopening Sarawak for tourism and business events is high,” said Malaysia’s tourism minister Nancy Shukri, adding that tourism and business event destinations will reopen “once the targeted herd immunity of 80 per cent is achieved”.

Under the National Recovery Plan, Sarawak is at the second stage of a four-phase roadmap that would see the reopening of domestic travel by the third stage.

Shukri added that business events would be a main focus of her ministry during the National Recovery Plan’s third phase.

Sarawak state’s tourism minister, Karim Rahman Hamzah, said: “We anticipate entering phase three by the end of August, [when] we aim to restart tourism and business events in Sarawak by the fourth quarter this year.

Officials warned that safety protocols would not be overlooked as Sarawak worked towards a reopening of its state borders to tourism and business events.

“Tourism and business events activities will be organised with strict adherence to the government stipulated Standard Operating Procedures,” said Hii Chang Kee, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak.

“The safety of those involved – whether as hosts, suppliers or visitors – remains a top priority in our state.”

“We are 70 per cent in delivering our state recovery plan for business events with updated SOPs and improved incentivised packages, alongside creative marketing and promotional materials to ensure the success of the events that are being held in Sarawak,” she said.

“We are all eager to restart again and can’t wait to launch our brand new recovery efforts soon.”

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