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Focus on generating economy not racial sentiments, tourism minister says as China and India travellers come visa-free

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has today urged Malaysians to focus on elements that contribute to the country’s economic progress rather than playing up religious or ethnic sentiments.

The Bintulu MP said this would then give a boost of confidence to foreign tourists to visit Malaysia as their preferred destination, ahead of the visa-free entry of travellers from China and India.

“We must ensure that the facilities in the country, especially tourist spots, are in good condition and safe for tourists as well as offering attractive and competitive tourism products.

“Also, the most important thing is not to make all issues a religious or racial issue. We should focus more on the elements that really contribute to the country’s economic progress so that we can give confidence to tourists, and more and more tourists will be attracted to visit. Only then can we help the country’s economic development,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat during the Minister’s Question Time.

Langkawi MP Datuk Mohd Suhaimi Abdullah responded to the call and said that Muslims in the country would heed the call.

Tiong was responding to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng who asked about the positive impact of the 30-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India on the objective of reaching the target of 25 million international tourist arrivals.

Tiong responded by saying the announcement is a very important initiative in stimulating the growth and recovery of the country’s tourism industry, especially for these two markets that have a large population and will certainly attract a significant influx of tourists.

“The implementation of the visa exemption policy will have a positive impact on the tourism industry especially since we can expect an increase in the number of Indian and Chinese tourists, indirectly, this will generate the economy of tourism-related industries such as hospitality, retail, transportation and so on,” he said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced 30-day visa-free entry into Malaysia for visitors from China and India from December 1.

Yesterday, he gave his assurance that the aspect of national security will not be neglected, following the government’s recent announcement regarding visa exemption for several countries.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail also announced that Malaysia will offer long-term social visit passes to international students from 23 low-risk nations — including neighbours Singapore and Brunei — to allow them to stay here for up to a year after graduation.

Malaysia’s visa liberalisation plan comes ahead of the Visit Malaysia Year in 2026, where the country is targeting 26.1 million foreign tourist arrivals and an estimated domestic spending of RM97.6 billion.