KUALA LUMPUR: The number of tourists from China and India has seen huge improvements after e-visa services were made available, said Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Siew Ka Wei.
According to Siew in a statement, between March 2016 and April 2017, total of 284,606 and 323,173 Chinese tourists have applied for e-visa (electronic visa) and eNTRI (Electronic Travel Registration and Information), respectively.
As for India, its tourists’ visas application also shot up by 91.1 per cent from 36,442 approved in March to 69,635 visas approved in April.
“Following the green light from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to approve e-visa applications for multiple entries, the Home Affairs Ministry is working on the final details of the two-week multiple entry visa-free visit to Malaysia, which will boost this number even further.
“In addition, they are also allowed to transit in Malaysia without a visa, on specific terms and conditions.
“This improved facility is expected to help attract larger numbers of tourists from China and India to Malaysia who are looking for a holiday experience that offers diversity at an affordable price,” he said.
He added that Chinese and Indian nationals can now apply for e-visa, eNTRI or VOA (Visa on Arrival), depending on the purpose of their visit to Malaysia.
“These improvements have come at an opportune time to encourage more Chinese and Indian tourists to visit Malaysia.
“Considering that visa arrangements are critical for the convenience of travellers, these facilities are expected to ease travel preparations, especially since it has the following features, namely online application system, faster processing time and reasonable fees,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tours and Travel Agents (Matta) Inbound and Domestic vice president Datuk KL Tan said the number of tourists from China and India saw a drop lately due to aggressive promotions from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
“These countries have increased their promotions and are targeting the Chinese and Indian tourists.
“Indian tourists have dropped significantly as more countries such as Indonesia had extended free visa on arrival to Indian nationals. Thailand too had extended a similar policy until end of this year.
“Their airlines have started to fly direct. Air Asia X Indonesia started direct flights from Bali to Mumbai and Bali to Kochi. These have reduced chances of passengers going through Kuala Lumpur,” said Tan.
Tan added that most country’s tourist market have dropped especially in the ASEAN region.
“Foreign tourists’ arrival such as those from Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia has seen a decrease.
“But for long haul markets, we are quite dependent on Chinese tourists,” he added.
He however applauded the improvements made by the government saying that an increase of visitors from any country is always good.
“But India visitors dropped 35.1 per cent during the first quarter in 2017 compared to 11.6 per cent for whole of last year.
“The visa fee is slightly on the high side. We would like to see for the government’s review on the visa fees, especially for India.
“If everything goes right, we could get six million Chinese visitors and 1.5 million from India by 2020. Growth from the nine ASEAN nations will be steady, rising to 23.5 million by 2020 and the rest of the world, five million,” Tan said.