Possible Singapore-Malaysia Sea VTL A Tourism Boost For Johor

The possibility of a direct sea route between Desaru and Singapore gives hotels and resort operators hope to boost tourism in Johor. (Image by M.Fildza Fadzil)

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The coastal town of Southeastern Johor in Malaysia was once an ailing tourist destination that seemed to have lost its lustre. But over the last three years, it’s undergone significant changes and now boasts luxury hotels, golf courses, and a water theme park. But since the closures of borders were put in place to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, Desaru has been missing a critical component of its revitalization: visitors from Singapore.

A direct sea connection between Singapore and Desaru has offered a form of hope to resorts and hotels in Desaru. As early as some time in January, Malaysia and Singapore’s Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) are expected to hold discussions on establishing a sea Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) linking Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal with the Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal near Kota Tinggi.

Even if the new Omicron variant hinders efforts to expand the VTL between the two countries, both leaders stated they want “more open borders.”

For the Singapore-Desaru VTL sea route, the Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal, a new ferry terminal has been completed and is currently in the pre-operational phase of construction. Visitors from Singapore may get to the Desaru Coast resort via boat service in less than an hour. By ferry from Desaru Coast to Tanah Marah, visitors can expect a 90-minute travelling time.

The new ferry terminal can accommodate 300 passengers at a time. In addition, the Ministry of Health will be able to conduct COVID-19 screenings at the facility.

For the time being, the Desaru Coast “will have to wait” for the Singapore and Malaysian governments to iron out the technicalities before the sea VTL is launched. Some hotels believe that the sea VTL will also attract more business travellers to the area.

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A journalist by profession, self-proclaimed horror movie expert by passion. Danisha needs to spend more time watching sunsets than Netflix. Ultimately, she's just another girl figuring out her place in the world in between the multitudinous demands of adult life.