Malaysian travel agents push for visa waiver for Chinese tourists

Economy August 15, 2015 01:00


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DOING AWAY with visa requirements for Chinese nationals will top the agenda in a meeting between the Malaysian travel industry and Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Hamzah Rahmat, president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), said this proposal would be included in a memorandum the body will submit to Najib on August 27.

It will be the first meeting between MATTA and the prime minister. Hamzah said an earlier proposal to allow visa-free travel for Chinese tour groups had yet to be implemented.

“It’s been almost two months since the announcement but we have not heard anything more about it,” he said. In June, the Malaysian cabinet decided on visa exemptions for Chinese tour groups on a trial basis, but no date was fixed.

Hamzah said the tourist industry had been hit hard by a 30-per-cent drop in business this year, adding that this could have been averted if the proposal had been implemented.

“We would have been seeing more Chinese tourists spending their money here,” he said.

Hamzah said MATTA would also propose that the government implement an online visa-application system similar to that in Australia and for multiple-entry visa applications.

“Cutting red tape to allow ease of travel will allow Malaysia to compete with other countries for the tourism dollars,” he said.

For the upcoming “MATTA Fair” to be held from September 4-6 at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Hamzah said the body had asked the national tourism boards taking part to include goodies or better deals to offset the weakening value of the ringgit. The tourism boards of Indonesia, Hong Kong, Turkey and Taiwan will be among those coming for the fair. Hamzah said there would be more emphasis on domestic tourism this time.