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Malaysian tourism industry welcomes implementation of visa on arrival

Malaysian tourism industry welcomes implementation of visa on arrival

This picture taken on February 14, 2019 shows the Petronas Twin Towers and city skyline from the observation deck of the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP)

PETALING JAYA — Tour operators welcome the move by Malaysian government to implement visa on arrival for Indian and Chinese tourists entering Malaysia from another country. However, they hold the view that there are still room for improvement and suggest the government to prepare for visa waiver two years later. 

The tour operators hope more airports can issue VOA with lower fee and longer period for the visa.

Some operators are also of the view that the government should consider visa exemption. 

Albert Tan Sam Soon, president of Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association said the measure is good but there are still room for improvement. For instance, all entry points in the country should be granted permission to issue VOA including Sabah and Penang. 

He told Sin Chew Daily that many tourists from China are taking chartered flights to Penang and Sabah. Some tourists from China even take regular chartered flights to visit Malaysia. He is puzzled as both Penang and Sabah are not listed as point of entry for issuance of VOA. 

The VOA is only applicable to Chinese and Indian tourists entering Malaysia from Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. 

Tan said many tourists are flying to Malaysia without going through another country. 

As 2020 has been listed as Vis Malaysia Year, he said more attractive measures are to be in place for more tourists to visit Malaysia

“The extension from seven days to 15 days is not enough for tourists. It will be good if they can stay up to 30 days. If tourists are to visit entire Malaysia including Sabah and Sarawak, 15 days are not enough for those who wish to understand Malaysia in depth during their summer vacation,’’ Albert said. 

Despite the VOA fees are reduced from RM330(US$80) to RM200 (US$48.54), he said the fee is still considered relatively high. 

“A family will need to spend few hundred ringgit on visa while a tour group would have to spend few thousand ringgit,’’ Albert said.

The VOA for Indian and Chinese tourists is to encourage more tourists from China and India for the Malaysian government to hit the target to 30 million tourists for Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

The Malaysian Association of Tour Travel Agents (MATTA) president Tan Kok Liang is of the view that the VOA in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020 is commendable but it may not have a drastic impact for foreign tourists.

He suggests the government to start preparation for visa waiver to be implemented two years later. 

Apart from tourists from China and India, the government can consider implementing VOA for tourists from other countries.

Tan also said the extension of VOA from seven days to 15 days and the VOA fees reduction from RM330 (US$80) to RM200 (US$48.54) are good decisions.

Starting 15 July, tourists from India and China are eligible to apply for VOA from six entry points: Langkawi Airport in Kedah, Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration check point in Kedah, Miri International Airport in Sarawak, Sungai Tujuh checkpoint in Sarawak, Labuan ferry jetty and Sultan Abdul Aziz International Airport in Subang.

Indian and Chinese tourists holding valid travel documents from a third country such as Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are eligible to apply for VOA.

The duration of stay for VOA has been extended from seven days to 15 days and VOA fees reduced from RM330 (US$80) to RM200 (US$48.54)

The requirement to hold a minimum of US1,000 has been reduced to US$500.

Tourists can show proof the sum in the form of cash, cheque, credit card, debit card or digital currency recognized by Bank Negara. 

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