Malaysian hospitality sector gears up for surge in visitors following visa liberalisation plan

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian hospitality sector is preparing to receive an increased influx of visitors in the wake of the government's announcement of a visa liberalisation plan, which is expected to generate hectic periods in the near future.

The Malaysian Tourism Federation (MTF) secretary-general Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the move would definitely help the sector, especially local hotels and tour agencies.

"However, we must ensure that these tourists only stay at registered hotels and engage licensed tour agencies here.

"I have received complaints from members reporting travellers staying at illegal accommodations. So, while the number of tourists may see a spike, it may not reflect in the tourist receipts," he told the New Straits Times.

Ganesh, who is also Malaysian Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) national president, said the government should issue travel advisory on the dos and don'ts, including ensuring they engaged licensed tour agents that would also connect with registered hotels and vice versa, as well as local businesses.

Such a network, he said, would see the tourists experiencing Malaysian culture in a safe and controlled environment.

"This will also help prevent overstaying as the hotels would alert the authorities for suspicious behaviour.

"This is not the case if the tourists booked unlicensed accommodation online, such as apartment units, and arrive here without proper guide."

Citing China, he said the authorities there were strict with tourists arriving into the country, making sure they only choose registered tour agents and hotels.

He also urged airline companies here to consider increasing flight frequency and the related authorities to facilitate applications for them and cut the red tape.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday announced the move which was aimed at increasing tourism potential from China and India into the country.

China had recently announced visa-free travel for Malaysians entering the country for 15 days.

Following this, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the government is now undertaking a Visa Liberalisation Plan in efforts to ensure Malaysia remains the destination of choice in the region.

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