Malaysia to ease visas for Chinese tourists

Global Business

It was supposed to be a banner year for Malaysia’s tourism industry, the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 promotion. But it turned out to be a year that tourist arrivals dropped following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine. It was arrivals from China that saw the most dramatic slump, a situation Malaysia’s government and travel industry are working hard to reverse. CCTV America’s Rian Maelzer reported this story from Malaysia.

Malaysia to ease visas for Chinese tourists

It was supposed to be a banner year for Malaysia's tourism industry, the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 promotion. But it turned out to be a year that tourist arrivals dropped following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine. It was arrivals from China that saw the most dramatic slump, a situation Malaysia's government and travel industry are working hard to reverse. CCTV America's Rian Maelzer reported this story from Malaysia.

The disappearance in March of flight MH370 with 154 Chinese on board badly hurt perceptions of Malaysia. The challenges for the tourism industry got worse as the year progressed.

The real hammer blow happened in the state of Sabah on Malaysian Borneo. Militants from the Southern Philippines kidnapped several people including a couple of tourists from China, and held them for ransom.

Chinese tourism to Sabah virtually collapsed, with more than 250 flights cancelled and the spillover of those security concerns affecting the whole country.

“The dropping of the Chinese tourists I think is about 80 percent compared to last year. I have been to so many cities, Chengdu, Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai to do promotions but the people still feel Malaysia is not really a good time to travel now,” Discover Orient Holidays Managing Director Sophia Wong said.

To try to boost numbers, Tourism Malaysia is ramping up its promotions in China. The Malaysian government now allows Chinese visitors to get visas on arrival at more entry points, and it’s considering waiving visa fees.

“As far as MATTA is concerned, we have always been asking for, advocating that we should extend the visa exempt for the Chinese tourists or for Chinese nationals coming into Malaysia. If there’s going to be visa exempt I think the number will dramatically increase,” Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents Hamazha Rahmat said.