By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By AFP
Malaysia is taking aggressive steps to reverse a drop in tourist arrivals from China, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Chinese tourists contributed a significant part of tourism income in the past, but their numbers coming to Malaysia have fluctuated over the years.
Dr Mahathir said a recent drop in Chinese arrivals has prompted the government to look into ways to make it easier for them to visit.
He said some of these barriers for Chinese tourists include the visa process.
“Tourists wanting to visit Malaysia have to pay for visa, and it is issued in China itself. We are aware that there are some weaknesses in the process.
“We are working to rectify the matter, to ensure that the price is not very high and the visa issuance could be done faster and more efficiently,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Dr Mahathir was responding to a question from Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun about how the government planned to address the fall in Chinese tourist arrivals in Malaysia.
The PM said the government is confident that the Chinese tourist arrivals will stabilise in the medium term, given the aggressive steps taken by relevant authorities.
“Malaysia is not the only market experiencing drop in tourist arrivals from China, but also other countries.
“This is because the Chinese tourists used to travel overseas during the long national holiday, but now they prefer to travel within China,” he added.
It was reported that the number of Chinese visitors to Malaysia dropped by an estimated 30% to 35% during their week-long National Day break earlier this month compared to last year’s holiday period.
Media reports suggested that it was the first time Malaysia posted a fall in tourist arrivals from China during their “Golden Week” or peak tourism season in the republic.
About 180,000 Chinese tourists came to Malaysia during China’s “Golden Week” last year from Oct 1 to 7.