LETTERS: Malaysia is taking a risk with its one-month visa-free travel, effective Dec 1, for citizens from India and China now that there is a major resurgence of Covid-19 cases from 2,305 to 3,626 in the past one week.
Having large crowds at shopping malls, wedding halls, educational institutions, conferences, restaurants and tourist attractions could lead to more such cases.
With the visa-free incentive, year-end tourism can get a big boost as it is the preferred time for travelling with the family due to the festive holidays.
The country is trying hard to revive its sluggish economy and the slowdown in the tourism industry since the Covid-19 pandemic.
If there are very large numbers coming from these two countries, some precautions need to be taken by all, be they locals or foreigners, as there have been reports of new variants in China.
The local economy can benefit greatly if tourist arrivals and spending increase exponentially.
The government has been thoughtful about this year-end incentive as tourist spending can stimulate the local small- and medium-sized entreprises and service sector, which have to pay the annual and festive bonuses to their workers. A timely boost will help ease their financial woes.
Nevertheless, the main problem associated with visa-free travel, especially for a month or a limited period, is that it will be abused, so the authorities need to ensure that the tourists and travellers return to their countries.
Malaysia has had a major problem with this as some tourists do not return home as they seek work and business opportunities to stay as long as they can.
The Home Ministry has to take action in such cases as they may be involved in economic crimes, including scams.
At the same time, given Covid-19 resurgence, the health authorities need to be on the alert as well.
Sungai Buloh, Selangor
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times