BOAO, China - Malaysia will set up visa processing centres in Nanning and Xi'an to boost tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is on a two-day visit to Boao in Hainan province, said this was one of the efforts to win back Chinese tourists, whose numbers plunged last year.
"The Government is trying very hard to revive the numbers, which declined 9 per cent last year due to the MH370 tragedy and the kidnapping cases in Sabah.
"We will open our consulates in Nanning and Xi'an this year, and the Chinese can apply for tourist visas in these two cities," he told the Malaysian media here Friday night.
Another measure was the visa-fee waiver implemented early this year, which exempted tourists from China from paying the visa fee of 80 yuan (S$17.61).
On the concept of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), Najib, who was here in China for the Boao Forum for Asia 2015, said Malaysia supported it in principle and was getting more details from China.
The concept was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2013 to enhance maritime co-operation with neighbouring countries.
Najib said Malaysia has worked out an area of co-operation with China along the concept of 21st century MSR, which was to establish a special link between Malaysia and the southeast province of Guangdong.
The Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed have been tasked with co-chairing the Malaysia-Guangdong Joint Committee for Trade and Investment that oversees the implementation of this linkage.
"Guangdong is a major trading province with Malaysia. We are looking at enhancing economic relations between Guangdong and Malaysia, with Guangdong and Malacca as a subset.
"One of the proposals is to have direct flight between Malacca and Guangdong," Najib said.
Ong, who is part of Najib's delegation on this visit to Boao, said the working committee would meet in April, and the main committee in June.
On Friday evening, Najib was received by Xi at the Boao State Guest House for a bilateral meeting and a dinner.
Najib said boosting economic ties was among the issues discussed between the two leaders.
"Xi is looking forward to the continued expansion of the bilateral trade between the two countries, which is currently growing by 8 per cent a year," Najib said.
He added that both countries would have its first joint military exercise as part of co-operation in the field of defence.