PUTRAJAYA - Several issues, particularly those related to security, need to be resolved before the Government can do away with visas for Chinese tourists.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said while the Cabinet had agreed in principle to lifting the visa requirement, there were issues that need to be "seriously considered".
"There are several loose ends that need to be tied, and at this point, I cannot give any deadline as to when this can be implemented.
"Security is a serious issue and time is needed to study it," said Ahmad Zahid to The Star without elaborating.
However, he said it was normal practice for a government to reciprocate another's move not to impose visa requirements.
Currently, a visa application for a Chinese citizen has to be submitted to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing and costs RMB80 (nearly RM46), while a Malaysian applying to visit China needs to pay RM85 at the republic's Kuala Lumpur visa office.
Among other conditions currently imposed by Malaysia is that Chinese tourists must enter only through airports, which complicates transfer of Chinese tourists who are already near the Malaysian border.
The Star reported that the Cabinet had agreed in principle to ease entry requirements for Chinese tourists and had directed the Home Ministry to further study the move.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had said that with 80 million Chinese going overseas as tourists annually, every country in this world was competing to attract them.
The Government introduced the visa-on-arrival system for tourists from China in 2004, but it was scrapped in 2010.