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Malaysia mulls visa waiver for Chinese tourists
S Puvaneswary, Kuala Lumpur, January 15, 2015

MALAYSIA is considering the total abolishment of visa requirements for Chinese tourists, instead of the earlier plan of waiving visa charges.


The Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Home affairs are preparing papers on the possibility of abolishing the visa requirements, to be presented at the Cabinet meeting next week, reported local broadsheet The Star.


Winnie Ng, deputy general manager, Pearl Holiday Travel & Tour, said the removal of visa requirements is a better alternative than waiving the visa fee because it "attracts last-minute travellers and takes away the hassle of visa application”.


Mint Leong, secretary-general of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, said the move would create a level playing field with neighbours Indonesia and Thailand.


However, she pointed out: “It does not mean that just by removing visa requirements, Malaysia will be as attractive as Thailand. We cannot compete with Thailand in terms of pricing and attractiveness of the destination.


“Thus, it is very important for Tourism Malaysia and industry players to work together on creating tactical promotions and new itineraries enticing to the Chinese. While the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 campaign will certainly help generate interest in the destination, what is needed now is to create awareness about this campaign to the outbound Chinese tour operators and the Chinese consumer.”

She added: “In the long term, the visa waiver will see an improvement in Chinese arrivals, but a decision made within the next few weeks will be too late for a big impact on Chinese arrivals for the upcoming Lunar New Year.”

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