Published on : Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Malaysia’s Tourism Promotion Board chairman Tan Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen hoped that Malaysian travel trade operators will take the opportunity to make use of Malaysia’s special policy of visa on arrival to attract more Chinese tourists.
In a recent luncheon event with Singaporean travel trade operators, Dr Ng said “Chinese arrivals are very linked to the Singapore market. If they don’t come to Malaysia, they will not come to Singapore. So, we are trying to do our best to develop both.”
“And that is also to help Singapore, our closest neighbour and good friend.
Therefore, we would like them (Chinese tourists) to come to Singapore first before coming to Malaysia. Not many countries have such a neighbour-friendly policy but we have that.”
According to an official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia, the VOA fee is USD100 (RM356) for up to 7 days stay and visitors must be in possession of minimum USD1000 cash.
Although fees for normal visas have been waived from this year, China nationals still need a visa to enter Malaysia but the application fee charged by middlemen is four times higher than the visa fee.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President Hamzah Rahmat pointed out “The VOA would facilitate those who had to enter Malaysia but would not attract normal tourists. It is akin to asking them to knock on our back door and ask for permission to enter.”
“To attract large number of visitors, the MTPB Chairman should have urged the
government to provide tourist-friendly VOA facility by allowing direct entry from China instead of having to go through a third country such as Singapore or Thailand.”
“Although we work closely with our neigbours for mutual benefit, we should not be too patronising as our relationships are more competitive than symbiotic.”
“For example, Thailand leapfrogged Malaysia in visitor arrivals when they eased visa restriction. In 2013, the number of tourists to Thailand increased by 4,192,822 compared to only 682,752 for Malaysia.
Hamzah concluded “VOA facility for Chinese tourists to enter Malaysia from Singapore is nothing to shout about when other ASEAN countries are already allowing direct entry from China.”