Language barrier main deterrent for Thais to visit Malaysia

ALOR STAR: The inability to speak Bahasa Malaysia and English well is a major reason why relatively few Thais visit Malaysia

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said about 4.8 million Malaysians journeyed to Thailand annually, but only 1.3 million Thais entered Malaysia.

He said immediate efforts are needed to attract more Thai tourists to Malaysia, such as through promoting attractive destinations in the country, especially in the lead-up to Visit Kedah Year 2025.

"We are aware of the significant influx of Malaysians to Thailand, around 4.8 million annually, compared with the relatively low number of Thai tourists coming to Malaysia, which I was told is about 1.3 million," said Sanusi.

"Thai authorities have highlighted that Thai people find it challenging to speak Malay and English, unlike Malaysians who are more fluent in English, with some being proficient in Thai."

He said this at a press conference following a courtesy call from a Thai delegation led by Songkhla Governor Somnuk Promkheaw.

Sanusi said the meeting also covered discussions on facilitating the entry of trade vehicles carrying fresh goods from Thailand to Malaysia.

However, he said, the delegation raised several issues that could not be decided as they were under the federal government's jurisdiction.

"The state government is ready to bring the issues to a higher level.

"We have agreed to set up a special border committee between Kedah and Songkhla to address issues raised by both parties for our mutual benefit, especially in trade, tourism, education and culture.

"The Kedah government will pay a return visit to Songkhla in the near future, and we will invite representatives from federal agencies to participate in resolving issues under their jurisdiction."

Promkheaw, meanwhile, expressed his commitment to boosting Malaysia's tourism sector among Thai residents, particularly in the southern region.

He also highlighted challenges faced by Malaysian couples married in Songkhla.

"A new issue emerged from our discussions, which concerns Malaysian Muslims married in Songkhla who can't register their marriages in Malaysia," said Promkheaw.

"This raises concerns for the future if these couples have children who do not have birth certificates, making it difficult for them to obtain citizenship. We are ready to help these couples in resolving this issue."

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