Business boost expected

Visa-free travel will improve M’sia-China trade, say industry players

PETALING JAYA: The impending visa-free travel to China is expected to boost business between the two countries, while tour operators expect to see increased outbound trips from Malaysia to China.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Tan Sri Low Kian Chuan said many of its members can soon travel to China for business with more ease and efficiency.

“Among the 110,000 business members of ACCCIM, many have frequent trade and business exchanges with China.

“This visa-free arrangement will provide great convenience by saving them time, effort and expenses in obtaining visas.

“It will facilitate business negotiations and promote people-to-people exchanges between the two countries,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Low was commenting on the latest 15-day visa-free travel to China from next month that was announced on Friday, and possible reciprocal action for Chinese nationals coming to Malaysia.

Besides Malaysia, China also extended visa exemptions to citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Low hopes that the visa-free policy would become a permanent arrangement with an extension of the duration of stay.

“We urge the government to reciprocate visa-free measures for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.

“This will promote closer ties and connectivity between the people of both nations while giving a much-needed boost to the local tourism industry and economy.”

As the year 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations, Low said the visa-free travel initiative symbolises the continuous enhancement of bilateral ties.

“Malaysia is the only Asian nation benefiting from this visa-free policy announcement, making it even more significant,” he added.

When contacted, Melaka Tourism Association president Madelina Kuah said the visa-free travel would be a boom for those travelling for business, official government matters, and to visit relatives.

“For December, most destinations have already been booked, and there won’t be many groups and independent travellers heading to China.

“However, we anticipate that the numbers will surely increase as we move towards next year,” she said.

Kuah also predicted that China would be a popular choice among holidaymakers during the next MATTA Fair in March 2024, as travel agencies will have time to promote their packages.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Nigel Wong concurred, expecting a significant increase in travel demand for China in 2024.

“In line with global trends, we anticipate a wider range of product offerings.

“Specifically for China, we expect to see the introduction of more Muslim-friendly products,” he said.

Apple Vacations group managing director Datuk Seri Koh Yock Heng said that business travel has become much easier now, allowing for greater flexibility and the ability to move anytime.

“Visiting relatives and family has also become much more convenient, enabling last-minute travel for leisure and business and family visits,” he said.

Koh noted that airlines also benefit through last-minute promotions and sales, as travellers can now take advantage of visa-free travel arrangements.

“Given the ongoing conflicts in some Middle Eastern countries, there has been a shift in travel preferences towards Asia, making China a preferred choice for customers.

“China has always been one of the top destinations for the Malaysian market, particularly among Chinese travellers,” he added.

In a statement, senior product and marketing director for Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, Edmund Ong, said the visa-free travel would spur more China-inbound travel from Malaysians.

He said is launching a new campaign with special discounts and offers for trips to China.

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