Hotel industry hopes to recover from visa-free move

All set: A worker at a budget hotel in Seberang Jaya making a final check before new guests check in. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The move to allow 30-day visa-free travel for Chinese and Indian nationals has opened up opportunities for the hotel industry to bolster its recovery, says the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

It would be a good chance for Malaysia to carry out massive promotions to attract tourists from these high-yield countries ahead of Visit Malaysia Year 2026, MAH said.

“The decision has strategically positioned Malaysia to capture a substantial market share from China and India, which are two of the world’s most lucrative markets.

“Historically, both these nations have been significant contributors to Malaysia’s tourism receipts,” it said in a statement yesterday.

MAH expressed hope that this latest visa-free initiative would provide the momentum needed for hoteliers to establish Malaysia as the preferred destination for these discerning markets.

MAH said hoteliers had actively prepared for the anticipated influx of Chinese and Indian tourists and viewed the visa-free move as a chance to boost the recovery of the hotel sector.

Starting Dec 1, visitors from China and India to Malaysia are permitted a 30-day visa-free travel.

In GEORGE TOWN, budget hotel operator Datuk Azli Rosli said most tourists from these two countries would come via tour agencies where they signed up for all-inclusive packages that included big hotels in Penang and Langkawi.

“Out of 100 guests from those countries, probably just 20 of them would come on their own and stay in budget hotels,” he said.

Azli, who runs budget hotels in Langkawi and George Town, said most of his guests were locals, with a small number of backpackers from Europe.

For the Christmas and school holiday period, he was happy to see an overall 80% occupancy.

Most of these guests, he said, were Malaysians.

As for Covid-19 precautions, Azli, who is the Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) Kedah/Perlis chapter chairman, said most of the budget hotels in Kedah and Perlis were maintaining their safety and hygiene standards.

“We still wear masks and gloves but we do not impose this practice on our guests,” he said.

Another budget hotel operator, Ieja Hindon Salleh, said her business was picking up.

“Many of our guests are locals,” she said.

She said there had been enquiries from tourists from China and India, but there was no booking from them so far at her budget hotels.

On precautionary measures to prevent Covid-19, she said all hotels under her management were still maintaining the measures that were practised during the pandemic.

For instance, the staff would sanitise every room before a new guest checks in, she said.

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