Published on : Monday, February 16, 2015
MATTA Vice President for Inbound Datuk Tan Kok Liang said “We have taken an important step in the right direction to lure more Chinese tourists and hopefully in due course, the government will grant direct Visa On Arrival (VoA) which could boost visitor arrivals overnight.
Although it is too late to cash in on the huge exodus of Chinese tourist during the lunar New Year holidays, nevertheless the announcement was a timely Ang Pow by the Malaysian Government and is bound to generate a groundswell of goodwill in China.
However, the crux of the issue is most China nationals do not plan their travel well in advance and are easily hindered by visa requirements. Moreover, they are also spoilt for choice as regional destinations are more flexible on visas.
If we do not wish to overtake our ASEAN neighbours by granting visa exemption, then we should at least match them in order to be competitive.”
Currently, VoA facilities are available to facilitate China and India nationals through air entry points at Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu entering Malaysia through a third country and paying USD100 for a maximum 7 days stay. Extending VoA facilities to leverage on the influx of tourists from Singapore and Thailand is a good strategy but we should look beyond this to boost arrivals.
“We should extend the current VoA facility for direct entry from China or India and extending the stay to 14 days,” Tan proposed.
Such VoA facility is allowed by 5 ASEAN countries with Brunei offering 14 days, Thailand 15 days and Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia 30 days.
“Malaysia could also join Myanmar and Singapore by allowing visa application online and their eVisas are valid for 28 days and 30 days respectively.
Moving forward, the Home Ministry can also grant visa exemption for tourists arriving here by chartered flights as the operators would ensure their departure,” added Tan.
Tourism experts have long known that easing visa requirements would induce airlines to increase scheduled flights and frequencies. For example, the seat capacity out of China to Singapore is 53% and Thailand 87% higher than to Malaysia.
“Malaysia could give other countries a run for the money if our Government levels the playing field as local tour operators are eager to contribute to achieving 29.4 million visitor arrivals for this year.
As such, issues such as visas should have been discussed in a gathering of all relevant stakeholders from both the public and private sectors instead of debating through the media over the past few months,” Tan concluded.
Source: Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents