The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has urged the government to grant visa-free travel for Chinese and Indian tourists to boost Malaysia's tourism.
Matta president Tan Kok Liang said visitor arrivals to Malaysia had dropped by three percent to 25.95 million in 2017, compared with 26.76 million in 2016, despite the positive tourist arrivals across Asean in 2017.
"The Malaysian tourism industry is trailing behind neighbouring countries such as Thailand which has recorded a growth of 7.8 percent, Singapore (6.2 percent) and Philippines (11 percent)," he said in a statement today.
Tan said Malaysia could climb up and become a tourist powerhouse holiday destination if the government grants visa-free travel for tourists, particularly from China and India.
“According to Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia recorded a 34.2 percent increase in Chinese tourists and 10.4 percent growth in Indian tourists from Jan to Sept 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.
"With the growth of Chinese and Indian tourists, the government should take the opportunity to entice these two top markets for inbound tourism with convenient and hassle-free entry into Malaysia,” he said.
He added that the government’s decision to extend the 15-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India from Jan 1, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019 was commendable, but it should consider granting visa-free travel to them.
“Neighbouring countries such as Thailand are offering visa facilitation to lure foreign tourists especially to welcome Chinese and Indian tourists, while Indonesia has granted visa-free travel to citizens of 169 countries including Chinese and Indian nationals to their country," he said.