KUALA LUMPUR - The Tourism and Culture Ministry will continue to focus on wooing travellers from China for Malaysia Year of Festivals, says its Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
He said the country "lost" about 540,000 tourists from China last year due to incidents such as the air tragedies involving MH370 and MH17.
"Otherwise, we could have easily achieved our target of 28 million visitors during the Visit Malaysia Year 2014," he said after attending a meeting with Tourism Malaysia Overseas directors here yesterday.
"If we can improve our current markets and continue to enhance our tourism promotions aggressively in China, we can surely achieve our targets," Nazri added.
The ministry aims to lure 29.4 million visitors with RM89 billion (S$33.4 billion) in tourist receipts this year.
Nazri said that there was a positive trend from Chinese tourist arrivals since last October.
"In May last year, we recorded a 35 per cent reduction of Chinese tourist arrivals. It was 30 per cent in June. After October, the numbers have begun to increase," he added.
The minister also noted that the decision to waive entry requirements for Chinese tourists would be made after details which were discussed by the Cabinet last week, had been confirmed.
"We will have to wait for the confirmation of the Cabinet's minutes of meeting. We hope that it will be done quickly as we want to take advantage of the Chinese New Year holidays," he added.
"Once it is confirmed, the details will have to be worked out," he added.
He said that since the Home Ministry had outsourced the collection of processing fees to another company in China, the visa fees had increased to RMB400 (S$86).
"This has to be dismantled, and soon," Nazri said.
Currently, a visa application for a Chinese citizen has to be submitted to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing and costs RMB80 (nearly RM46).
Malaysians 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 should enter only through airports, which complicates transfers of Chinese tourists who are already near the Malaysian border.