Tour operators want Malaysia to ease travel requirements for China tourists

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia should emulate Indonesia which has waived visa requirements for Chinese nationals since Jan 1, local travel operators said.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Hamzah Rahmat said the association had been seeking approval from the Government since 2004, but there had been no response so far.

"Malaysia should have been the first to do it. It is high time for Malaysia to implement the move, not only for tourists from China, but for tourists from other countries that have stronger currencies," he said.

Indonesia started providing visa-free services for Chinese nationals from Thursday.

The policy also covers travellers from Australia, South Korea, Russia and Japan.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai expressed hope that the move to ease travel requirements for Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia would become a reality.

"Malaysia is looking into this and we hope the Government will study the matter," he said at the handing-over ceremony of flood disaster assistance at the MCA headquarters yesterday.

He said the Government was also following up on a proposal for visa-free travel for Malaysians visiting the United States.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz on Dec 22 said there was a need to waive the visa charges of 80 renminbi (S$17) per person to woo Chinese tourists.

Indonesia expected an additional 450,000 foreign tourists and RM1.9 billion (S$712 million) in foreign exchange with the visa-free policy.

Hamzah said even European countries had eased travel requirements for Chinese tourists.

"This is evident from the huge number of big spenders from China at their high-end shops," he added.