Free visas for Chinese tourists insufficient: associations
Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) is disappointed that the government is only offering free visas for Chinese tourists instead of visa-free entry.
PETALING JAYA, Jan 8 (Sin Chew Daily) -- The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) feels disappointed that the Malaysian government is only offering free visas for Chinese tourists instead of visa-free entry. It says this will result in Malaysia losing the opportunities to lure more tourists from China.
The ministry of tourism and culture hopes that free visas for Chinese tourists could be implemented before the Lunar New Year "golden holidays" so that more Chinese tourists can visit the country on chartered flights.
KL Tan, MATTA vice-president (inbound), told Sin Chew Daily the travel industry is a highly competitive industry and with more and more countries offer visa-free entry to Chinese tourists, the free visas provided by the Malaysian government will make the country hard to compete for the lucrative Chinese tourist market. MATTA urges the government to provide visa-free entry to all Chinese tourists.
"There are a lot of differences between visa-free and free visas. As a matter of fact, visa fee only makes up about 20-30% of the visa handling charges, with the rest being borne by the government."
He said the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia fell approximately 40% from 2013 to 2014, while many travel agencies suffered about 30-40% loss in business.
"Travel agencies' businesses have never improved since the MH370 incident."
Tan insisted that the situation could be reversed if we offer visa-free entry to Chinese tourists.
He said it is nevertheless a small improvement that the government has agreed in principle to waive the visa fee for Chinese tourists, and he hoped this would help bring a little more Chinese tourists to the country.
He said he understood the government's concerns of offering visa-free entry to Chinese tourists. So far many countries have offered visa-free entry to Chinese tourists and these countries have managed to tackle the security issues with regards to visa-free entry of Chinese tourists.
He said MATTA hopes that the government would provide at least two weeks of visa-free entry to Chinese tourists.
Chinese New Year is a peak season for Chinese tourists, and if the government is able to implement the visa policy before that, it is anticipated that at least 50 chartered flights from China would head for Malaysia, which is a great news for the local travel industry.
Only agreement in principle
The Counselor for Consular Affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Gong Chunsen said the Malaysian government had only agreed in principle to waive the visa fee for Chinese tourists, not yet at the final implementation stage.
"We hope the relevant department could make an official announcement as soon as possible."
He said the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang had discussed with a senior government official over the possibility of waived visa fee or visa-free entry for Chinese tourists.
He told Sin Chew Daily currently China only provides visa-free entry to nationals from three countries, namely Brunei, Singapore and Japan although these countries still require visas from visiting Chinese tourists.
Meanwhile, KL & Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry also urges the Malaysian government to provide visa-free entry or at least visa on arrival for Chinese tourists.
It said it was a positive move for the Cabinet to agree on free visas for Chinese tourists, and hoped visa-free entry or visa on arrival would be extended to them in the future.
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