GEORGE TOWN - More work needs to be done to lure Chinese tourists back to Malaysia following the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tragedy.
Tourism Malaysia Industry Development Division director Saidi Bundan said the tragedy had cast a pall over arrivals from China, which recorded a 27 per cent drop in the first three months of this year compared to the corresponding period last year.
"The situation is not likely to improve in the near future, as it will take a long time to build up the trust of the Chinese tourists again.
"We are embarking on aggressive promotions in second-tier cities in China such as Nanjing and Fuzhou.
"We have to compensate for this drop by promoting Malaysia in other parts of the world, while also moving into the second-tier cities," Saidi told reporters after a briefing and networking session with operators of Penang shopping outlets here yesterday.
On the shopping industry, he said tourists spent RM21.6bil (S$7.7 billion) in Malaysia last year.
He added that Penang was an important destination for shoppers, as the direct international flights had made the city a shopping heaven.
Recently, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the visa-free trial period for Chinese tourists should be carried out as soon as possible.
"We strongly feel that visa exemption is one of the ways to attract Chinese tourists. We hope the one-year trial period can take place as soon as possible," he said.
If Malaysia exempted visas for Chinese tourists, Liow believed China would do likewise for Malaysian tourists.
The Cabinet has approved the visa-free proposal and will implement a one-year trial period to assess its feasibility and impact.