Implementation of visa-free leads to surge in tourists between Malaysia and China

  • Nation
  • Friday, 29 Mar 2024

(From left) Western Tokushima Tourism Association official Ohira Katsuyuki, Bulan Duang Van Thong, Abe Chou, MITM 2024 organising chairman Jason Law, Edwin Tay, Sharil Nizam Abdul Rahim, Paul Paw, Chresentia F.B Sadatal, Malaysia Airline (southern region) manager Caren Lee and Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) tourism licensing and enforcement unit head Saipol Anuar Abd Wahid at the MITM Travel Fair 2024 opening ceremony.

JOHOR BARU: Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) president Paul Paw has highlighted that with the implementation of visa-free between Malaysia and China, there has been an explosive increase in Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.

In just three months, the number of Malaysians traveling to China has also reached a staggering two million.

He shared that this figure far exceeds the pre-pandemic period, where in 2019, only 1.38 million Malaysians traveled to China. However, he also admitted that the figure is based on industry estimates.

"The association is actively advocating for the visa-free between Malaysia and China to become a permanent measure to continuously stimulate domestic tourism," he said.

He made these remarks at a press conference after officiating the opening ceremony of the MITM Travel Fair 2024, organised by MCTA Johor chapter.

Other attendees included Taiwan Tourism Bureau's Kuala Lumpur Office (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei) director Abe Chou, Tourism Malaysia (southern region) deputy director Chresentia F.B Sadatal, Tourism Authority (Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei) deputy director Bulan Duang Van Thong, Tourism Johor director Sharil Nizam Abdul Rahim,and Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association Johor Chapter chairman Edwin Tay.

Paw also revealed that there are tourism operators in the country, adding that with 15 additional chartered flights between Kuala Lumpur and China each week, while each chartered flight carrying 180 to 186 passengers.

"These flights all operate from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, flying to various destinations in China including Chengdu, Nanchang, and Taiyuan; starting from April 24, Senai International Airport in Johor Baru will also have chartered flights to and from Haikou, China every Wednesday and Saturday."

"In 2019, about three million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia. With the implementation of visa-free between Malaysia and China, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia has surged."

Furthermore, he also disclosed that China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines have increased the number of flights between Kuala Lumpur and China. Some flights, which used to operate four times a month,are now operating four times a day, which is quite astonishing.

He pointed out that currently Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand have all implemented visa-free policies to attract Chinese tourists, which is expected to further increase the number of tourists traveling between Malaysia,Singapore, and Thailand.

However, he emphasised that local tourism operators are not only striving for a share of the Chinese tourismmarket but are also not giving up on other overseas tourists, such as those from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,

Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries.

Currently, Paw pointed out that 90% of chartered tours adopt three traditional forms of guided tours.

"The first traditional itinerary includes visits to Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands, Malacca, Johor Baru, and then crossing over to Singapore before returning to China.

"The second involves visits to Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands, Ipoh, and Penang before returning to China."

He said the third type is island tourism, which generally involves planning trips to islands like Sipadan in

Sabah or Langkawi, and then returning to China.

"The main reason for tourists choosing guided tours is the inconvenience of transportation in Malaysia, and guided tours allow for better itinerary planning."

He said that the remaining 10% of chartered passengers choose free and easy trips, and some Chinese tourists who have seen many Malaysian attractions through social media platforms like "Xiao Hong Shu" may also attempt to travel to Malaysia.

However, they generally do not specifically choose chartered flights, as chartered flights have specific itineraries, and taking regular flights is usually more cost-effective.

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