In an effort to attract wealthy Chinese tourists, Malaysia is launching a new visa waiver program specifically targeting Chinese tour groups.
In addition to the waiver program, which will run from October 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, Malaysia will introduce a new digital visa for tourists. The new “e-visa” will simplify the application process for Chinese tourists coming to Malaysia, which are currently only processed in four Chinese cities.
Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, announced the new measures, along with new spending proposals, to support Malaysian tourism. The country plans to invest 80 million Ringgit (around $18.6 million) to promote tourism in rising markets, such as China, India, and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Malaysia also intends to invest 1.1 billion Ringgit (around $255 million) to renovate popular landmarks and refurbish local infrastructure.
Although first proposed in Malaysia only last November, the six ASEAN countries of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, have long been waiving visa fees for Chinese tourists as a means of increasing tourist dollars.
Discussing the visa waivers, Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had only good things to say about Chinese tourists: “The Chinese economy is doing well, their tourists are quality tourists and they have the money”.
Malaysia’s tourism industry has suffered in the wake of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 tragedy. 154 Chinese nationals went missing in the crash and remain unaccounted for.
In 2013, 1.79 million Chinese travelers visited Malaysia, up 14.9 percent from 2012.