KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is considering waiving the need for visa for visitors from China on a one-year trial basis in a bid to boost tourists arrivals.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the Home Ministry would prepare a paper to be tabled in the Cabinet soon.
“The visa waiver for those coming from China was raised by the Prime Minister in the Cabinet last month.
“He directed the Home Ministry to prepare a paper for the Cabinet,” he said when answering a question by Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) in Dewan Rakyat here yesterday.
Nazri said the proposal came about after an earlier attempt to boost Chinese tourist arrivals by waiving visa processing fees had negligible impact. “So we are now looking at waiving the visa requirement altogether,” he said.
Malaysia waived the RM30 visa application fee for tourists from China from Feb 15 until the end of the year.
In 2013, two million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia, compared to 1.4 million last year.
On Tuesday, in his winding-up debate on the 11th Malaysia Plan, Nazri said the number of Chinese tourists dropped from 520,466 in the first quarter of 2014 to 379,265 for the same period this year.
Meanwhile, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he had supported the visa waiver idea from day one, and hoped it would create a big influx of tourists from China.
“We need more tourists from China, and one of the initiatives is the visa waiver. A one-year trial is enough to see the impact.
“I hope the Government can implement this as fast as possible, so we hope the Home Ministry can take heed of the request from the tourism sector,” he told reporters at an energy conference yesterday.
On a separate issue, Nazri assured Lim, who is also Penang Chief Minister, that the state would not be left out in the ministry’s tourism promotion activities.
He noted that Penang alone managed to attract two million tourists in 2013, and 3.2 million last year.