Free visas not enough to woo China tourists, say groups

Free visas not enough to woo China tourists, say groups

PETALING JAYA - Tourists from China are unlikely to be attracted by the waiver in visa fees offered by Malaysia, as they are more discouraged by the red tape over visa applications.

"The Government should do away with visas for tourists from China instead of just removing the fee," said Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association secretary-general Tai Poh Kim.

"We were told that they would still have to submit forms to the respective visa centres before they can travel to Malaysia.

"It is not effective to just waive the visa fee," Tai said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that visa fees for tourists, including those from China, would be waived in an effort to boost the tourism industry.

The announcement was made during the 2015 Budget revision measures.

"Chinese tourists are among the big spenders that we are trying to attract but this (applying for visas) will turn them away to other holiday destinations such as Indonesia and Thailand," Tai added.

Citing Japan as an example, Tai said many Malaysian tourists returned to visit the country following its decision to waive the visa in July 2013.

"We saw an estimated 40 per cent increase in Malaysian tourists visiting Japan from January to November 2014, compared to the same period the year before," Tai said.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Datuk Lim Kok Cheong said travellers were mostly concerned about the convenience issue rather than about having to pay the visa fee.

"China is a big country, and in order for a tourist to get a visa they have to travel far to the embassy either in Beijing, Shanghai or Canton province. This will not be convenient for them," he said.

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