The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is calling on the Government to grant visa free travel for Chinese and Indian tourists visiting Malaysia.
MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang says, “We laud the Government’s move to extend the 15-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019, published under the Passports Act 1966 in the Federal Government Gazette.”
However, rather than extending the visa exemption policy, the Government should work towards granting visa free travel for tourists particularly from China and India to attract more visitor arrivals and to become a tourist powerhouse holiday destination.
According to Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia received an increase of 34.2% growth of Chinese tourist and 10.4% growth of Indian tourist from January to September on 2018 compared to the same period on 2017. With the growth of Chinese and India tourists, the Government should take the opportunity to entice these two top markets for inbound tourism with convenient and hassle-free entry to the Malaysia.
Neighboring countries are offering visa facilitation to lure foreign tourists especially to welcome Chinese and Indian tourists. For example, Thailand recently extended the waiver of visa-on-arrival (VOA) fees for visitors from 21 countries, including China and India until 30 April 2019. Arrivals from China and India spiked about 20 per cent compared with the first half of November 2018, when VOA fees were still in effect.
Indonesia grants visa free travel to citizens of 169 countries including China and India nationals to their country. The visa free policy helped boost the number of tourist arrivals by about 20 per cent every year since 2014.
The Malaysia’s tourism industry is trailing behind neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Philippines. The tourist arrivals for ASEAN countries have recorded positive growth in 2017, with 7.8% increase for Thailand, 6.2% for Singapore and 11% for Philippines. Whereas visitor arrivals to Malaysia dropped by 3% with 25.95 million tourists in 2017, compared to 26.76 million in 2016.
“The government should make visa free travel for Chinese and Indian tourist a national agenda to ensure Malaysia is not losing out in the race for tourists and tourist dollars rather than being overly cautious and ‘dilly-dallying’,” concluded Tan.