KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia must not lose out in the tourism race and it should be on par with other ASEAN countries when it comes to visa exemption especially involving China, said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Hamzah Rahmat.
He said Myanmar was the latest country to offer e-visa for tourists into the country and this had eclipsed Malaysia as a frontrunner in tourism in the region.
He also noted that Indonesia, fresh from making new Cabinet appointments by their new president, had already announced visa exemption for five countries from next year including China.
Matta has been pushing for the Government to allow short-term visa exemption for tourists from China to boost tourist arrivals especially during Chinese New Year.
"The world is chasing after Chinese tourists because they are the ones with spending power.
"We are depriving the industry of millions of ringgit by enforcing visa on this market," Hamzah said.
He pointed out that Japan had implemented the visa-exempt rule starting last year and recorded visitors' growth exceeding 25 per cent while Thailand had further boosted its tourist arrivals by granting visa exemption for China nationals starting this year.