Time we emulate Thailand's tourism draw with visa-free entry

LETTERS: Thailand aims to attract 28 million tourists and generate 1.4 trillion baht (RM180.2 billion) this year, according to reports.

In 2019, our neighbour attracted 40 million tourists and earned 1.9 trillion baht (RM244.6 billion).

That year, we welcomed only 26.1 million tourists and made only RM89.4 billion in revenue. Are we going to remain passive bystanders or are we bold enough to take the bull by the horns? Are we content with taking a backseat while Thailand stays proactive and far ahead of us?

One of four strategic actions under the National Tourism Policy is to remove impediments to high-value tourism.

In 2019, Chinese tourists were the fourth biggest spenders in Malaysia per capita and rose to third in the first half of this year.

One of the four strategic actions to strengthen governance capacity is reinforcing high-level coordination to monitor the implementation of the National Tourism Policy 2020-2030 through dialogues between the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and other ministries.

Thailand's relaxing of visa requirements should give the ministry further impetus to engage with the Home Ministry again on granting visa-free entry and longer stays to citizens from more countries.

We can start with a six-month trial. If implemented in January, Malaysia can start 2024 with a bang. We can receive no less than 24 million tourist arrivals next year, up from 18 million expected this year.

Not only that, tourist arrivals are expected to climb to 30 million in 2025, 36 million in 2026 and 42 million in 2027.

Without action, arrival figures will remain around 26 million annually, like in pre-pandemic years.

At least, we should keep pace with Thailand's tourist arrival numbers. We should not miss the immense benefits that tourists provide — many Malaysians can be gainfully employed and tourist spending can boost the economy.


Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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