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Published on : Monday, February 1, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR, 30 January 2016: Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President Datuk Hj Hamzah Rahmat is elated with the recalibrated budget announced by Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak on Jan 28.
He said “We welcome the measures taken for the tourism industry and will respond enthusiastically to the Prime Minister’s call to intensify organized sales of domestic holiday
packages and further promote domestic tourism. Come March, we will be holding the 41st
edition of MATTA Fair at PWTC and as always domestic tour packages are offered at the
most prominent booths.”
“We are delighted that tourists from China will be allowed to enter Malaysia without visas for up to 15 days stay from 1 March to 31 December this year. MATTA has been pleading with the Government for almost two years now, since the MH370 incident to allow visa-free entry for China tourists to boost visitor arrivals. During our engagement with YAB Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak on Aug 27 last year at PWTC, we stressed that the visa matter be given top priority.”
“There have been at least three announcements about visa-free entry for China nationals to date. As with past announcements, it seems that our Immigration Department will have the last and final say despite the announcements or directives given by our YAB Prime Minister; we hope this time it will become a reality,” retorted Hamzah. He further added, “Our local travel industry as well as the China travel industry has lost faith and confidence with all these announcements. It has become a laughing matter to China tourists. As a matter of fact, we were the last among the top ASEAN countries to adopt this policy. Myanmar, the last country to join ASEAN has overtaken us. Don’t forget Indonesia which is taking tourism very seriously and now seems to be ahead of us in every aspect of tourism.” says Hamzah who is also the President of the Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA).
If we are serious and sincere in our intent, there shouldn’t be many “terms and conditions”
attached to the offer of visa-free to the China nationals as this action may be seen as a half-
hearted attempt. In tourism, we must show our sincerity and welcome visitors to our home
(country) with open arms. The visa-free policy should also not be restricted to a minimum of two persons and tourists should be able to enter and leave from any entry/exit points in
Malaysia as currently practiced by Indonesia and Thailand.
In addition, India should also be included in this visa-free initiative not just China alone.
“We are glad that the first phase of e-Visa or rather “ONLINE APPLICATION” was
launched on Jan 2 and the announcement that implementation of the remaining phases will be sped up. However, having an “e-Visa” today simply means that we can apply for the visa online, get instant confirmation and simply present our passports at immigration counters and it will be processed accordingly. No printing, no waiting, no hassle. We are making a mockery of ourselves by referring to our “online application” as an “e-Visa”. Are we not supposed to be a technologically advanced country?” questioned Hamzah.
You should not need to go to or send your passport to the embassy to get your e-Visa
approved. This has been practiced by Australia for more than a decade to great success.
Even the Republic of Azerbaijan has a true e-Visa system.
“Why are industry players and/or stakeholders not engaged in this very important issue? Can Immigration work alone and keep everyone else in the dark and yet expect to achieve the desired results? What and how will the e-Visa mechanism work? These are questions that industry players from both countries are asking”, quipped Hamzah.
“This is a wake-up call for Malaysia – it’s time to walk the talk” added Hamzah.
“Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that Malaysia has set a target to draw eight million tourists and RM22.1 billion in tourism receipts from China over the next five years. The announcements by both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister has injected a huge dose of dynamism and augurs well for the tourism industry and economy”
“Finally, Malaysians as a whole MUST embrace and know the true meaning of tourism.
This is especially so for Government servants from Ministries outside the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Tourism is not just about arrival numbers, it is measured by spending receipts as well as the creation of jobs in the country. Do not overlook the hard cash in foreign currency that tourism brings in that we need to spur our country’s economy. Look at the bigger picture” concluded Hamzah.