Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng has urged Putrajaya to heed the call by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) to enable visa-free travel for tourists from China and India amid concerns about slowing tourism growth.
"The economy in these two countries has seen a boom. When tourists from India and China go on tours, they usually travel in big groups.
"At a time when the country’s economy is in the doldrums, we should attempt to raise this figure even further to boost our economy," he said in a statement today.
Last week, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association deputy president Mint Leong estimated that tourist arrivals from China in 2017 during the country's national day break from Oct 1 to Oct 7 fell by around 30 to 35 percent compared to the same period the year before.
The DAP lawmaker said visa-free travel will make it easier for tourists to visit Malaysia.
"The visa-free status for Chinese tourists, for example, would make it less cumbersome for them to apply for a visa from the Malaysian High Commission in Beijing or any of its four consulates in such a vast country.
"And in India, there is only one High Commission office in New Delhi where visitors’ passes are processed," he said.
Lim said Putrajaya should heed Matta's call if Malaysia is to remain competitive as a tourist destination.
"Traditionally, Malaysia has always benefitted from trade between India and China since the early history of this nation.
"Compared to other Asean countries, we have a lot of similarities, especially in the cultures, food and the ability to speak the same languages as these tourists.
"There is, therefore, no reason why we should be lagging behind other Asean nations such as Thailand (7.8 percent growth), Singapore (6.2 percent) and the Philippines (11 percent). Malaysia has seen a drop of three percent in tourist arrivals last year, compared to 2016," he said.