China tourism industry players welcome Malaysia's visa-free policy

BEIJING - Tourism industry players in China applauded the move to scrap the visa requirement for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia from March to December this year.

They said the move, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, would make it more convenient for Chinese tourists.

China Comfort Travel Group Co Ltd public relations manager Wu Jingyan said doing away with visa would benefit both tourists and travel companies because it would lower the cost of tour packages.

"When the visa fee exemption ended on Dec 31, visa fees went up to 200 yuan (S$44) from 120 yuan.

"We are absorbing the difference at the moment," she said.

Wu said he foresaw a positive effect of the visa-free policy on attracting tourists to Malaysia, adding that China Comfort's Beijing office brought in 4,000 tourists to Malaysia a year.

Tourism Malaysia's Beijing office director Noran Ujang said he welcomed the announcement as "great news" because it would definitely boost tourist arrivals from China.

He added that he noticed an increase in requests for chartered flights from northern China during the upcoming Chinese New Year, which was an encouraging trend as it proved that Chinese tourists were interested to travel to Malaysia.

"There will be chartered flights from Zhengzhou in Henan province and Tianjin to Kota Kinabalu for the Spring Festival holidays.

"People in the northern part of China, who have to go through several months of cold winter, want to visit somewhere warm," Noran said.