THE Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has urged the Government to grant visa-free travel for Chinese and Indian tourists visiting Malaysia.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang lauded the Government’s move to extend the 15-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India from Jan 1 to Dec 31 this year, under the Passports Act 1966 in the Federal Government Gazette.
“However, rather than extending the visa exemption policy, the Government should work towards granting visa-free travel for tourists, particularly from China and India, to attract more visitor arrivals and become a powerhouse holiday destination.
“As such, the Government should take the opportunity to entice these two top markets for inbound tourism with convenient, hassle-free entry to Malaysia,” he said, adding that neighbouring countries are offering visa facilitation to lure foreign tourists from China and India.
Tan cited an example of Thailand recently extending the waiver of visa-on-arrival (VOA) fees for visitors from 21 countries, including China and India until April 30.
Arrivals from China and India increased about 20% compared with the first half of November last year, when VOA fees were still in effect.
“Indonesia grants visa-free travel to citizens of 169 countries including China and India to their country.
“The visa-free policy helped boost the number of tourist arrivals by about 20% every year since 2014,” he said.
Tan added that Malaysia’s tourism industry was trailing behind its neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
“The Government should make visa-free travel for Chinese and Indian tourists a national agenda to ensure Malaysia does not lose out in the race for tourists and tourist dollars,” he concluded.