All systems go for visa waiver for China tourists: Zahid
Published on: Friday, February 19, 2016
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Kuala Lumpur: It's all systems go for the visa waiver programme for tourists from China, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.He said the programme would commence immediately following the green light given by the government of China.

"I have met with my counterparts, Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, and Communist Party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Secretary Meng Jiangzhu.

"They were given the duty to facilitate Malaysia's growth of Chinese tourist arrivals and they had given the approval for the programme to start with immediate effect," he said before opening the 19th Malaysia Tourism Awards (MTA) at Putra World Trade Centre earlier.

Zahid said Malaysia had made it easier for Chinese tourists to come here as the competition to attract them was very stiff.

"Our neighbours, Thailand and Indonesia, are also after them and each has their own attractions.

"However, we (Malaysia) have the edge over them for we are truly multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religion," he said.

Despite this unique advantage, Zahid said the country should not only concentrate all efforts towards attracting tourists from China but also continue to promote Malaysia among the non-Chinese markets.

Stakeholders and captains of the nation's tourism industry were present at the prestigious event in which 65 awards were given to recognise those who have supported the industry's continuous growth and development.

"The World Tourism Organisation or UNWTO outlook for 2016 projects international tourist arrivals to grow by four per cent worldwide and by region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific, ranging between plus four per cent to plus five per cent.

"As such, I believe there is no better time than now for Malaysia to take full advantage of the next wave of growth," he said.

He said the Government would play its role to develop policies that would make Malaysia a more tourist-friendly destination with priorities on national security and travel facilitation.

Ahmad Zahid said the implementation of visa-exemption and e-visa system to facilitate the travel of more Chinese tourists to Malaysia were among measures that indicated the Government's seriousness to improve the tourism sector in the country.

With a target to attract eight million Chinese tourists over five years, he said the Government had made it easier for them to come to Malaysia as the competition to attract them was very stiff, with Thailand and Indonesia also after Chinese tourists.

During the speech, Ahmad Zahid also announced that national artist and singer Shila Amzah, who is very popular in China would be appointed Malaysia's Tourism Ambassador to attract more tourists from that country.

Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out, over the years, the tourism industry in Malaysia had grown significantly, both in terms of tourist arrivals, as well as economic contribution.

He said, from a mere 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 1998, contributing some RM8.5 billion in tourism receipts, Malaysia was expected to attract 36 million tourists in 2020, generating RM168 billion in tourist receipts.

Also present at the awards ceremony were Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, his deputy, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin and hundreds of tourism industry players.



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