A Chinese tourist wears traditional Malaysian headwear during a visit to Kuala Lumpur. Chinese are expected to be exempt from visa requirements if they visit Malaysia in groups of two or more.[Photo/Xinhua]
Malaysia is to further relax its visa policies for Chinese tourists around Spring Festival to boost arrivals.
Chinese are expected to be exempt from visa requirements if they visit the country in groups of two or more, but they must buy tour packages approved by the two nations’ governments.
Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said more than 100 million visits were made outside the Chinese mainland by Chinese last year.
Malaysia’s tourism industry would benefit immensely if it could attract 3 percent of this total to visit during Spring Festival, the minister said.
Ctrip, an online travel service provider in Shanghai, said the new visa policy could increase the number of tour groups visiting Malaysia.
“In October, Malaysia introduced visa-free policies for Chinese tour groups. However, they only apply to groups of at least 21 tourists traveling on direct flights,” said Dai Yu, Ctrip’s marketing director.
China ranks third in Malaysia’s top 10 tourist source markets after Singapore and Indonesia.
However, the number of visits made to the country by Chinese tourists has dropped sharply since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March last year.
The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board said the shadow cast by MH370 has now lifted and the number of visits made by Chinese tourists could reach 2 million by the end of this year.
Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Malaysia from Nov 20 to 23 will also help boost tourism in the country.
Tuniu, another online travel service provider, said it has become a trend for tourists to follow in the footsteps of high-ranking officials.
A manager at the company, who declined to be named, said President Xi Jinping’s visits to Vietnam and Singapore earlier this month have attracted more Chinese tourists to the two countries.
There are now nearly 200 flights a week between China and Malaysia, with a maximum capacity of 40,896 passengers.