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Move will be mutually beneficial, judging from surge in tourist arrivals from China seen since policy test-run last year: Group

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia China Welfare Advisory Society has called for the visa-free policy between Malaysia and China to be made permanent.

Its vice-president Teh Choon Jin said the tourism industry will benefit immensely from a permanent visa-free policy as Malaysia has witnessed a surge in tourist arrivals from China since the temporary initiation of the policy in December last year.

“Having a permanent visa-free policy will also significantly enhance bilateral relations and stimulate economic growth between our two countries.”

Supporting his call, Tourism Malaysia Director-General Manoharan Periasamy said Malaysia received a total of 1.47 million tourists from China last year.

“We are positive about getting over five million tourists from there because currently we have 247 flights weekly between our two countries.

“In terms of seat capacity, there are almost 4.9 million seats available from various destinations in China to Kuala Lumpur.”

A survey conducted by the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association said over 80% of Chinese tourists expressed positive sentiments about Malaysia.

The ease of travel afforded by the visa-free policy has also encouraged Chinese tourists to explore Malaysia’s diverse attractions, vibrant culture and rich heritage.

Malaysia is also being promoted in China as an ideal destination for tourism, investment and business opportunities.

Teh said seamless travel between the two countries is important to further enhance economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.

“Having a permanent visa-free policy will play a pivotal role in sustaining this momentum and stimulating the hospitality, retail, transport and entertainment industries.”

Citing recent statistics from the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, Teh said bilateral trade between Malaysia and China reached a staggering RM899 billion last year, making China Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years.

“Over the years, bilateral relations between our two countries have also blossomed, driven by robust economic ties, cultural exchanges and growing tourism.”

Teh said a permanent policy would tangibly strengthen friendship between both nations.

“There will be greater mutual understanding, trust and cooperation as people-to-people exchanges increase.

“There will certainly be a proliferation of cultural events, educational programmes and business collaborations between our two countries, which will further promote trade, investment and business collaborations.”

Teh said having a permanent visa-free policy would also solidify Malaysia’s standing as a premier tourist destination in the eyes of Chinese travellers and encourage repeat visits to Malaysia.

“Permanent visa-free travel also aligns with the principles of sustainable tourism and promotes responsible tourism practices.

“By implementing it, Malaysia can enhance its appeal as an investment destination and facilitate more interactions between businessmen, investors and diplomats of both nations.”