KUALA LUMPUR: The recent Bersih 4.0 rally had saved the Government money in terms of advertisements to promote Malaysia to the world, said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
The Tourism and Culture Minister said the rally was covered by international media like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.
"I want to thank CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera for the coverage on the demonstration done by the yellow shirts (Bersih 4.0).
"We got advertisements worth billions as it showed Malaysia is a country that has healthy democracy although the protest was against the Prime Minister.
"We saved a lot of money on advertisements," said Nazri in reply to a supplementary question by Liang Teck Meng (BN-Simpang Renggam) on Tuesday.
Liang asked if demonstrations had a negative impact on tourism.
To this, Nazri, who is also Padang Renggas MP, said demonstrations did not have a negative impact on tourism as tourists from countries like the United States, Korea and Europe are used to it.
"It doesn't matter if it is the red shirts or yellow shirts because the tourists have seen demonstrations happen in their own country, too.
"We also have the Peaceful Assembly Act, which gives people the freedom to demonstrate peacefully, so what do the tourists need to be afraid of?" he asked.
To another question by Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) on free visas for tourists from China, Nazri said the conditions imposed by the Immigration Department have not been helpful to woo them.
Nazri said only groups with 20 tourists or more are eligible for visa exemptions but there are many free independent tourists from China who travel in smaller groups.
"Sometimes, there are only four or five people in a family, so they may decide to go on a holiday to countries that have visas.
"Neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Thailand are getting more tourists as they have exempted the visas, but Malaysia on the other hand, have tightened the rules and are not implementing the Cabinet's decision.
"Many agents lost money during China's Golden Week," said Nazri.
It was reported that the free visa programme for tour groups from China came into effect on Oct 1. However, many had made plans for the country's National Day break, known as the Golden Week.
The Cabinet had agreed to the free visa programme in June and it was supposed to be implemented in September.
Nazri also said he would take into consideration on a suggestion from Loke to appoint popular singer Sheila Hamzah as a tourism ambassador to attract tourists from China.