Association lauds use of digital arrival card

KUALA LUMPUR: A tourist association has lauded the government's implementation of the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC), saying it was the right move towards digitalisation.

Malaysian Tourism Federation (MTF) secretary-general Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the system would make it easier for foreign visitors and tourists to enter the country.

"It is a very good system because overall, most of the countries, including Indonesia have already implemented a similar system," he told the New Straits Times.

However, he said, it was important to ensure that the necessary infrastructure was maintained to ensure a smooth operation.

Ganesh, who is also Malaysia Budget & Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) national president, said officials must also be aware that tourists comprised various races and ages.

"But one of the things they (Immigration Department) needed to ensure is a fast Internet connection at the entry point. Coming into Malaysia, we need to make sure that infrastructure such as Wi-Fi is up to speed.

"Place officers who can guide everyone at the entry point because there could be elderly people who are digitally illiterate.

"The language barrier can also be an issue because we can't always expect tourists to speak English. So, translators might also be necessary to help at the entrance," he said.

Some tourists met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport arrival hall on the first day of MDAC's implementation on Friday said they were caught by surprise with the new directive.

They said they only learnt about the move when they landed in the country, and were not asked to fill up any arrival card.

Abdul Ajis Simman, 46, from Singapore said he was not asked to fill any digital arrival card when he passed Immigration checks at the airport.

"The checking process was just as usual and there were no additional requirements or even signage requesting us to fill in any digital arrival cards.

"I saw a few Immigration officers at the counters, but it seemed to be business as usual, whether our passports were electronically verified or stamped manually before being allowed to pass through."

Ajis said it was only when he reached his destination in the capital here that he read about the new regulation online.

S. Ganason, a 60-year-old New Zealander who arrived from South Korea on Friday evening also shared a similar experience, saying that he was not aware of the new regulation.

"No, we were not told about the digital arrival card and entered through the Immigration counter via the International arrival hall," he said.

MDAC, an initiative which took effect last Friday, required foreign tourists or visitors visiting the country to fill in their data online before arriving.

It was part of the five main initiatives to improve the Immigration Department's services, in line with the implementation of the visa liberalisation plan, which automatically provided a 30-day visa for tourists from China and India.

But the Immigration Department said the new regulation was exempted for those transiting the country to or from Singapore, individuals with Permanent Resident (PR) status and holders of the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) card.

To ensure the smooth arrival of tourists, flexibility in filling out the MDAC is granted until Thursday.

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