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Malaysia’s hotels say ready for surge in tourists from China, India under visa-free scheme

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — Malaysia’s hotels are ready for the expected increase in tourists from China and India after a new 30-day visa-free programme kicked in yesterday, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said.

In a statement yesterday, the MAH expressed its sincere appreciation to the Malaysian government for the strategic decision to allow visa-free entry for China’s and India’s citizens to Malaysia, which it said would help attract tourists from these countries ahead of Visit Malaysia Year 2026.

“MAH is ready and looking forward to collaborating with the government in ensuring the success of this visa exemption initiative.

“The hotel industry is prepared for the expected surge in Chinese and Indian tourists and sees this as an opportunity to significantly boost the recovery rate of Malaysia’s hotel sector,” the association said.

MAH also said it was committed to supporting initiatives that contribute to the growth and recovery of both Malaysia’s tourism and hospitality sectors, and thanked the Malaysian government for being receptive to the industry’s needs and for this timely initiative which would help drive tourism.

Noting that both China and India have historically been significant contributors to tourist arrivals and tourism spending in Malaysia, MAH said the Malaysian government’s decision to offer the 30-day visa-free travel scheme positions Malaysia to “capture a significant market share from two of the most lucrative” countries globally.

“The Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister has noted a substantial increase in tourists from these nations in the January to September period of this year compared to 2019, indicating a growing interest in Malaysia as a tourism destination by these two nations.

“It is hoped that with this exemption in place, we are able to gain the momentum needed to cement Malaysia’s standing as the preferred destination for this discerning market,” it said.

MAH, which was formed in 1974, is the umbrella body and official national network for hotels in Malaysia. It represents more than 1,000 hotels nationwide with over 150,000 hotel rooms, or in other words more than half of the total number of hotel rooms available in the country.

Tourists are seen at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur in this file photo taken on February 14, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Tourists are seen at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur in this file photo taken on February 14, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Tourists are seen at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur in this file photo taken on February 14, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Malaysia’s 30-day visa-free travel policy for citizens of China and India will be in effect from December 1, 2023 until December 30, 2024.

The Immigration Department of Malaysia yesterday issued a set of replies to frequently-asked-questions for the 30-day visa-free programme, including the fact that it can only be used for travelling and not for other purposes such as to work or study in Malaysia, and that the visa exemption would apply to all citizens from China and India regardless of from which country they depart from to enter Malaysia.

To prevent overstaying by tourists from China and India who enter under the 30-day visa-free scheme, the Malaysian government has said it would monitor their exit from the country by the 30th day, while airlines would be required to check that passengers have confirmed return flight tickets home and confirmed hotel bookings for the duration of their stay in Malaysia.

The Immigration Department yesterday announced that all foreigners who enter Malaysia from December 1 onwards are required to fill up and submit the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) online before arriving in Malaysia, with the MDAC form online requiring this to be done within three days from entry of Malaysia.

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.

Based on Tourism Malaysia’s latest available data, the top 10 countries contributing to the 26.1 million tourist arrivals in Malaysia in 2019 include China (third highest at 3.1 million) and India (sixth highest at 735,309). Collectively, both countries contributed to about 14.7 per cent of the total number of tourists who arrived in Malaysia in 2019.

Out of the RM86.1 billion tourism receipts recorded by Malaysia in 2019, tourists from China contributed RM15.3 billion and those from India contributed RM3.6 billion. Collectively, both countries’ tourists contributed to nearly 22 per cent of tourism spending that year.