KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has denied that the cancellations or reviews of various China-backed projects was behind the drop in tourists arrivals from China.
Instead, he said, the drop in Chinese tourists had not only affected Malaysia but was also experienced by other countries.
“During their national holiday between Oct 1 and 7, many Chinese travelled overseas.
“However, many Chinese tourists had also travelled within China,” he said in Parliament on Monday (Oct 15).
Dr Mahathir said he was confident that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia would pick up again.
He was responding to a question by Fong Kui Lun (PH-Bukit Bintang) who asked if the sharp drop in Chinese tourists during China's “golden week” national holidays was due to a negative perception towards Malaysia following a review of several China-backed projects here.
Last year, it was estimated that some 180,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia during the week-long holiday period.
Malaysia attracted 2,281,666 tourist arrivals from China in 2017, netting RM13bil in tourist receipts, according to Tourism Malaysia.
Later, when replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam), Dr Mahathir said the government will look at ways to reduce visa fees for Chinese tourists.
“The issuance of visas are done by China and there is a shortfall in the service which needs to be addressed.
“We will have to decide on a visa cost which is not too high and also look at ways on how to speed up the visa issuance process,” he said.
Dr Mahathir acknowledged that there was a recent drop in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.
He said that the government would study the reasons behind this and take measures to address the issue.