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Major breakthrough needed for tourist industry

  • If we really want to boost our tourist industry, why must we enforce the third country entry requirement when extending the visa-on-arrival facility?

Sin Chew Daily

In conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign next year, the tourism ministry hopes to further relax the visa-on-arrival policy on Chinese and Indian tourists in hope of boosting tourist arrival.

From what we understand, once the visa-on-arrival policy goes into effect, the country's tourism receipts will be increased by at least 30%.

According to the information made available to Sin Chew Daily, tourists from China and India will only be eligible to apply for visa-on-arrival if they enter Malaysia from a third country.

However, the validity for visa-on-arrival will be increased from 7 to 14 days, in addition to increased entry points and one-month lag instead of three months to reapply visa-on-arrival.

The visa-on-arrival facility extended to visitors from China and India have a positive impact on Malaysia's tourist industry, but the government can do more. The absence of bigger breakthrough in policy has been rather disappointing.

Indeed, if the government is serious about boosting the country's tourist industry, it must first adopt a bolder and more open approach.

The number of Chinese and Indian visitors saw an immediate spike when the previous BN administration implemented the e-visa facility in 2016.

This shows that the implementation of e-visa and easier access to visas alone is enough to boost our tourist arrival. If an even more convenient visa-on-arrival facility is extended to visiting Chinese and Indian nationals, the effects are going to be much more pronounced.

Following the deepened bilateral relationship between Malaysia and China, the number of Chinese nationals visiting the country either for vacation or business has increased remarkably. There are already direct flights from China to more popular local destinations like Langkawi and Sabah.

Meanwhile, India has also witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number of outbound tourists.

Given our close relationship with these two countries, the government should seize this unique opportunity to further relax the policy so as not to let go of these two enormous tourist markets.

We must never overlook the stiff competition from regional countries. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Brunei have been very positive in pushing their tourist industry, extending more liberal visa facility to visitors from China. The tourist industry in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines has grown much more robustly than ours. It is now time to speed up and catch up with them.

If we really want to boost our tourist industry, why must we enforce the third country entry requirement when extending the visa-on-arrival facility?

We already have plenty of direct flights but why should we require the visitors to land in a third country first before coming to Malaysia?

The tourism ministry must consult the industry operators before coming up with any major decision. The operators are the people most familiar with what the industry needs as well as its dilemma, and they are the ones most directly involved in spearheading the development of tourist industry.

It is our wish that the tourism and home ministries will keep in touch more often local operators and listen to their views in order to come up with the best strategies to boost the country's tourist industry.

 

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