Over the past few days, I’ve met some of my peers in the travel industry, and I could see a hint of hope on their exhausted faces. They were beaming with joy, and rightly so, after going through crushing hardships over the past two years.

Yes, we all know by now that this April Fool’s Day is the day everyone in the Malaysian tourism industry has been looking forward to – the day when our international borders will finally be open.

I still remember what travel and food expert Chua Lam, who is also a friend, told me about two years ago, at the start of the pandemic: “We need to reset our business operations and start getting ready for the day right away. when we can leave for our travels.

Well, the “cage” has finally opened and all the long confined “birds” will start flapping their wings and flying again!

Recently, many flight attendants who have been forced to take time off for the past two years have been called back for intensive training programs. They should prepare to fly again, but this time with a different set of standard operating procedures. Everything looks so promising now because of news like this.

Many of us have struggled to survive and get through the pandemic, as well as the lockdowns. But now we have this opportunity to move again and flex our travel muscles. We must mentally prepare ourselves and patiently wait for the day when we can use our dust-covered passport again.

More importantly, the news of the reopening of the border will significantly boost the country’s tourism industry and the economy in general. Jobs will be created and people will be able to earn some money for food.

It’s what I most longed to see, and it’s a powerful force that kept me going throughout those two years.

With travel restrictions soon to be eased, we can anticipate a tsunami-like increase in demand for overseas tours in the near future. From what I’ve learned, airfares and fuel taxes have gone up a lot, and popular hotels in tourist areas are already fully booked. It seems like everyone is trying to quickly finalize travel plans that they’ve been putting aside for two whole years!

Other countries that will soon also relax their travel regulations will be seen as highly sought-after destinations by global tourists. These include Turkey, the Maldives, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

And once Japan opens its doors (possibly in May or June), my excitement level will definitely hit the ceiling! All of us in the company have long dreamed of climbing Mount Fuji, visiting Hokkaido, taking an onsen bath, enjoying sashimi and wagyu, and doing so many things in Japan.

Elsewhere in the world, despite the airspace around Russia and Ukraine remaining closed to civilian aircraft, flights between Asia and Europe have become increasingly frequent. I think this is partly due to the fact that demand for travel to Europe has increased as more and more people crave romantic sites on the continent, while others are there to visit their children who go to university.

The reopening of borders will indeed normalize our lives even more as we can move freely, mingle and even come together. Although more and more people are getting used to the “fun” of working from home, deep down inside us there will always be this desire to step out of our little cages and fly into the big open world. outside.

The sad reality, however, is that the pandemic is not over yet and the coronavirus is still very much around the world. Moreover, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is escalating every day, and commodity prices have skyrocketed.

Still, we have to learn to live with it all and accept some things as our new normal, maybe even with a little smile.

And although the reopening of our borders is very good news, the fact is that not all travel agencies can get back to work immediately. Let’s not forget that the pandemic has changed a lot of things. Employees have been laid off, shutters down, years of savings emptied. Raising funds and recruiting new workers to revive the industry remains a difficult task.

To be honest, many service personnel have left the tourism industry and few would find enough courage to return after being so crushed and defeated.

But my rule of thumb for surviving is to adapt and be versatile in the face of a storm. Even if we lack the funds, at least we have the know-how and the experience.

And if we have lost most of our skilled workers, we can always train new ones. Keep in mind that some of us may still have a few old devotees to help lead a new generation, not to mention the warm encouragement from our loyal customers and supporters.

There are also many in this industry who still see each other through thick and thin.

More importantly, we can all get back to work and start all over again.

I am overwhelmed with joy. Travel agencies in Malaysia have already developed new SOPs for entering and exiting each country/territory. We have all arranged the best flights and routes for our customers, and have also included Covid-19 insurance cover. In short, leave all the planning to your trusted travel agents, who will ensure that you have a hassle-free vacation.

Let’s travel together again!

The opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.

Leesan, the founder of Apple Vacations, has traveled to 132 countries, six continents and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He is also the author of five books.