Tourism Minister wants visa-on-arrival extended to all countries to keep M’sia competitive

Tiong (left) meeting Sandiago during the 2023 Asean Tourism Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia recently. Photo credit: Dato' Seri Tiong King Sing (拿督斯里张庆信) Facebook

KUCHING, Feb 8: Malaysia should immediately look into expanding the visa-on-arrival scheme to travellers from all countries, especially China and India, to ensure the country will not lose its competitive edge in the global tourism industry within the region.

Making this call, Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Tiong King Sing pointed out that Malaysia can no longer afford to fall behind by using security as a pretext to put obstacles in the way of tourists and visitors and hampering tourism recovery.

“It projects the wrong image of our country and systems by not preparing for and welcoming the return of a large influx of tourists to Malaysia.

“For Malaysia to stand out in a highly competitive tourism market, it must allow such full re-opening initiatives immediately. To remain shut off implies a lack of sensitivity to market trends and results in ‘half measures’ to full recovery,” he said in a statement posted on his social media account today.

He highlighted this in his keynote address at the 2023 Asean Tourism Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia which concluded yesterday (Feb 7).

Tiong thus urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to immediately look into expanding the visa-on-arrival scheme to all countries, while expressing confidence that Malaysian authorities are fully capable of coping with passenger surges and maintaining order at entry points across the country.

“I urged all parties to have confidence in the relevant departments to exercise their respective responsibilities in safeguarding our national security,” he said.

Tiong pointed out that at this critical junction of recovery from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, it was necessary to adapt local tourism products and services to the new realities of the tourism market and make rapid adjustments, whether in terms of mechanisms or policies such as more friendly immigration policies and convenience, combined with Malaysia’s local tourism advantages.

“By underpinning these factors with Malaysia’s local cultural offerings, the country’s tourism industry will be in a better position to attract tourists and revitalise the economy,” he emphasised.

During bilateral meetings with Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiago Uno and a minister from Singapore, Tiong had stressed the need for joint promotion of multi-destination tourism, such as attracting tourists to visit multiple destinations on the price of a single travel package.

“At the same time, we are also actively discussing the cooperation of (sic) checkpoint procedures to further allow for more tourist arrivals and jointly expand on economic cooperation in tourism, arts, and culture to expand the tourism dividends in Asean,” he said. — DayakDaily