Motac to expand VOA facility scope benefits, cater wider travel access and tourism growth

by NURUL SUHAIDI

THE Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) will discuss with the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) on the expansion of the scope of Visa On Arrival (VOA).

The scheme, which is available for visitors from India and China, was improved on Oct 15.

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (picture) said the implementation is crucial to bring in more visitors into Malaysia through easier access and welcoming procedures.

Currently, the VOA is only available for tourists flying in via chartered flights.

To utilise the VOA, Indian and Chinese visitors must only enter Malaysia through Singapore, Indonesia, or Thailand.

Nonetheless, Motac is optimistic that through the expansion of the VOA in the pipeline, Malaysia will receive more tourists and investors from both countries, which will further boost the country’s economic growth and benefit the tourism industry.

Tiong noted that more details on the facility improvement will be announced by KDN in January next year.

In addition, based on the improved guidelines, registered Malaysian travel agencies can submit eVOA requests online up to 10 days prior to arrival for tour groups of up to 10 people.

As the process has been simplified, applicants are required to upload standardised supporting documents which will be verified within five working days.

Once approved, the RM200 visa fee must be paid at least three days prior to the planned travel date,

From the time tourists apply for visas until their final departure, travel agencies oversee their movements, in accordance with their authorised visas.

To benefit from the eVOA facility, tourists can submit their personal information through the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM) system before arriving in Malaysia.

In tabling the Budget 2024 recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia is targeting about 26.1 million foreign and domestic visitor arrivals with a receipt of RM97 billion for Visit Malaysia 2026.

Notably, the government has allocated RM350 million to boost tourism promotions and activities to make Malaysia the world’s top tourist destination again.

It is worth noting that the number of targeted arrivals for 2026 is the same as in pre-pandemic 2019 at 26.1 million, but in terms of receipts, Malaysia is targeting 13% more tourist spending than the RM86.1 billion achieved in 2019.

In addition to that, Budget 2024 also saw the government’s commitment to enhance tourism through sectoral growth, while generating a quick income for the country through influx of tourist visits.

To mobilise this, the Malaysia Visa Liberalisation Plan, was introduced as one of the initiatives to improve VOA and multiple-entry visa processes which creates a new opportunity to spur the economy.

According to the plan, visitors from China and India are being offered a 30-day visa exemption starting Dec 1, 2023 to Dec 31, 2024.

Not only that, all tourists intending to enter Malaysia are also granted multiple entry visas for up to 30 days.

The Malaysia Visa Liberalisation Plan also involves facilitating the approval of employment passes for strategic investors in key sectors as well as introducing the long-term visit pass for international students in low-risk countries who have graduated to meet industries’ needs for skilled manpower.

The move is also seen as a celebration of Malaysia and China’s 50 years of diplomatic ties as Malaysia remains among the top destinations for tourists from the mainland.