Malaysia’s tourism, arts and culture minister, Tiong King Sing, recently called on the Home Ministry to look into expanding visa-on-arrival (VOA) for all countries in order to remain competitive with other regional and global destinations.
This includes Malaysia’s traditional top two medium-haul inbound destinations, China and India.
Supporting the minister’s call to introduce VOA facilities, Christina Toh, president of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), shared: “It is crucial for us to draw more visitors into the country with easier access and welcoming procedures especially now at the time when tourism industry worldwide seems to be experiencing a universal reset that resulted in a more level playing field for all destinations.”
She explained that the current strict visa requirements have deterred many potential travellers from visiting Malaysia, adding that although it is important to maintain the country’s immigration policies, there is also a need “to adapt them to favourable market trends so as to not lose out on great opportunities”.
In addition, with China having reopened its borders, the industry is anticipating “a large influx in tourism and Malaysia stands to lose a lot of potential arrivals” with the existing visa process.
“MAH hopes that by giving visitors this option, it will encourage more arrivals into the country by eliminating the cost and difficulties that comes with visa applications,” said Toh.
Mint Leong, deputy president, Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association, is also in agreement, saying that it is “a great strategy to speed up tourism recovery” and one that will improve the country’s economy.
If implemented, there would be a spike in tourism arrivals; Malaysia’s “airports and tourism players have the resources to handle this”, said Leong.
Outbound operator Suka Travel & Tours’ director, Adam Kamal, noted that if the VOA takes effect, it may result in other countries reciprocating, thus allowing “Malaysians to have the same facility to enter their countries.
He added: “This will (then) help boost outbound travel to those countries.”