GEORGE TOWN: Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik has warned 'begpackers' not to take advantage of Malaysians’ generosity by begging for money to fund their holiday.
He said tourism was an industry that should generate income from the expenses incurred by tourists, and not the other way around.
"If they come here to take advantage of Malaysians’ generosity, then we should not encourage this group of tourists here. We should not fund these tourists to be here.
"However, we cannot put a blanket order (to stop the begpackers). We will support the efforts taken by the Immigration Department to curb this problem," he told a press conference after a networking session with tourism industry players in at the Bayview Hotel here today.
He was commenting on a video showing a Russian couple tossing their four-month-old baby during a street performance in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
The backpackers were picked up by police for questioning and have since been released on bail.
On another matter, Bakhtiar said the ministry was working closely with the Home Ministry on visa liberation.
He said the government was looking into ways to make it easier for tourists to come into the country to spur the tourism industry.
He also said Malaysia could emulate South Korea, where no visa fees are imposed to enter Jeju Island, and China, which offers visa-free access to Hainan.
"I am not saying that Malaysia will do this, but this can be among the ways to spur our tourism industry," he added.
In terms of arrivals into the country, he said, Malaysia recorded an almost 20 per cent increase in the number of tourist arrivals from non-Asean countries in 2018 compared to 2017.
He, however, said there was a slight dip in tourist arrivals from Asean countries.
He said the percentage of Singaporean tourists into the country declined by 14 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017 while the number of tourists from Brunei dripped close to 17 per cent during the same period.
"We are working hard. We will actively promote our tourism industry at the ITB Berlin Convention and Moscow International Travel & Tourism Exhibition.
"We are targeting the arrival of 30 million tourists and (we want to) generate RM100 billion in revenue for the 2020 Visit Malaysia campaign," he added.