Malaysia Introduces Free Visa For Chinese Groups

This October 1st, Malaysia is launching a free visa programme for tour groups from China, but results for the new policy will not be felt before a month at least as most Chinese already planned their holiday prior to China so-called Golden Week. The Golden Week, which starts on October 1st, described the week holiday during the National Day.

Tourism Malaysia chairman Wee Choo Keong explained to media that ‘ the Cabinet agreed to it in June and it was supposed to have been implemented in September. But nothing was done until late August.

“If we had introduced it in September, there would still have been time for the tourists to make their plans, but we have missed the train,” he said.

Malaysia has been rather slow moving, especially compared to Singapore which now grants multi-entry visas for Chinese nationals for a period of 10 years.Among rules to have a free visa entrance granted, tourists have to produce a return air ticket from Malaysia to China. Wee said as people now preferred to travel in a family of three or four, the requirement for tourists to come in groups of 20 or more could be another disincentive for them to come to Malaysia.

According to the Star Newspaper, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Hamzah Rahmat agreed with Wee on the need to offer free visa to smaller groups and independent travellers from China.

“The current trend of the Y-generation is to travel in smaller groups. This is the higher end market. If you ask anyone, even VIPs and Ministers, many will prefer to travel individually,” he said.Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had said he would appeal to Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to allow for groups of fewer than 20 tourists to be eligible for the visa exemption.