PETALING JAYA: Visa charges for Chinese tourists should be abolished as it would make Malaysia more competitive with other countries, many groups said.
Malaysian Tourist Guides’ Council president Jimmy Leong said the fees should be done away with as it would make Malaysia a more attractive destination for China nationals.
“Imposing the charge only adds an obstacle for them to come to our country.
“For families, if they can save on the visa fees, they could use the money for other expenses like food and beverage,” he said in an interview yesterday.
In December, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had said there was a need to waive the visa charges of 80 renminbi (RM44.83) per person to woo Chinese tourists.
He also said that all parties needed to work hard to bring back the Chinese tourists to Malaysia.
Currently, six Asean countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines – have waived the visa fee for the Chinese tourists.
On Monday, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) had called on Malaysia to emulate Indonesia which has waived visa requirements for Chinese nationals since Jan 1. Indonesia’s policy also covers travellers from Australia, South Korea, Russia and Japan.
Leong said while the fees should be abolished, he however stressed that the application for visas should remain for security purposes and to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants.
“There should still be a vetting process so that visas, including visas on arrival, are not abused,” he said, adding that the money spent by tourists would make up for the abolished visa fees.
Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce vice-president Kerk Loong Sing said cancelling visa would give an immediate boost to Malaysia’s economy as Chinese tourists were not only big in quantity but were also generally “big spenders.”
“It is also a good time for China nationals to come to our country as their currency is now stronger against our ringgit, which means that they can afford to spend more here. Removing the visa will also encourage more Chinese businessmen to visit our country and see if they would like to invest here,” said Kerk, who is Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industries of Malaysia agriculture and primary industries committee adviser.
He said while many Malaysian businessmen invested in China, the reverse was not true and the Malaysia-China investment ratio was six to one.
Kerk pointed out that there were about 100 million tourists from China and it was a huge market waiting to be tapped.
“Malaysia is also China’s biggest trading partner out of the 10 Asean countries and we share a close relationship with them,” he said.
Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) said such a move would boost bilateral trading.
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