Visa-free extension a boon for Malaysian crafts

BEIJING: China’s decision to extend the visa-free travel period for Malaysian tourists from 15 to 30 days will benefit the Malaysian handicraft and textile industries.

Malaysian Crafts Council (MCC) founding president and executive director Nik Faiz Nik M. Amin said that in the past, entrepreneurs had difficulty getting visas to China.

“Sometimes, we have to visit China on an ad hoc basis. It was very difficult for us to get visa approval before,” said the Kelantan-based Nik Faiz, who is also a batik entrepreneur with his own brand, Ruzzgahara.

“With the extension to 30 days, it makes us even more happy because China is a big country and it allows us to visit several places.” The visa exemption was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as part of the celebrations to mark 50 years of Malaysia-China diplomatic ties.

He said the agreement was reached during his courtesy call on Chinese Premier Li Qiang on May 29 and it would be implemented after the Premier’s visit to Malaysia this month.

Nik Faiz has been exploring the China market for batik products for the past eight years.

“The market in China is huge. Although China is one of the largest silk producers in the world, its demand (for silk batik) is very high and so is its purchasing power. It will open up opportunities for me to expand into various crafts,” he added, Bernama reported.

In addition to batik, Nik Faiz also sees the potential for Malaysian handicraft products, such as woven textiles and songket, to be widely sold in China, thanks to a healthy demand for such products.

Art activist Arja Lee echoed these sentiments, saying that the visa exemption would help her and her colleagues in the creative industries forge more collaborations with their counterparts in China.

“It will allow more Malaysians to visit China regularly, not only for a vacation but also to increase cooperation between Malaysia and China,” she added.

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