Zahid: Malaysia records drastic increase in Chinese tourists
Malaysia registered a drastic increase in tourist arrivals from China last year after the introduction of easier visa facilities, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said the number of tourist arrivals between March and December last year touched 2.2 million, up from the 1.2 million for the corresponding period in 2015.
Malaysia had introduced the Electronic Travel Registration & Information or eNTRI and e-visa facilities in March last year for tourists from China.
Zahid, who is on a visit to China, also said that for the whole of 2015, Chinese tourist arrivals numbered 1.7 million and they spent about RM5.7 billion in the country, averaging RM3,500 per tourist.
These tourists included the Chinese nationals who reside outside China, he added.
"Concerted efforts will continue to draw tourists during the three major holiday seasons, namely Chinese New Year, summer vacation and year-end holidays," Zahid said at a press conference in Beijing today.
He said there was plenty of room for the Tourism and Culture Ministry to work on to bring more Chinese tourists to Malaysia.
Zahid said Immigration Department statistics showed that many Chinese tourists to Malaysia were in the family travel group and the number of tourists who overstayed their visa was very small.
He said the Tourism and Culture Ministry would have to step up the promotion of charter flights because many major cities in China did not enjoy direct flights to Malaysia.
Focus would be given to Malaysia's Labuan as a new tourist destination and route for the arrival of more tourists from China and the duty-free island would also facilitate the access of tourists to Sabah and Sarawak, he added.
Zahid also conveyed his appreciation to China's Minister of Public Security Gua Shengkun at their meeting yesterday on China's quick response to every application made by Malaysia.
Asked about the impact of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on China's tourism sector vis-a-vis Malaysia, he said the situation returned to normal after about four months.
China nationals made up the majority of passengers on board MH370 which disappeared while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Zahid said that as the chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism, he would seek an increase in the allocation for advertising and promotion by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.
Details would be announced in due time, he added.