Monday, October 26, 2015

Online visa application will boost tourist arrivals to Sabah and Malaysia


KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) welcomes the government’s decision to implement the e-Visa by mid-2016 to facilitate tourist arrivals into the country.

“The e-Visa system is certainly a preparation for 2020, in line with the objective of achieving developed-nation status to meet future demand and tourists expectations. It will encourage visa applications and reduce administrative burden while maintaining strict and effective immigration controls,” said Datuk Tan Kok Liang, Vice President Inbound of MATTA.

E-Visa application will begin with China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the United States and Canada.

“For the time being, perhaps the e-Visa proposal is the best compromise. The earlier proposal of ‘Visa-Free’ status for Chinese tourists has been hotly debated over the last 12 months without clear resolution – such deadlock has resulted in our nation losing out to neighbouring countries which offer more relaxed entry policies” explained Tan.

Tan commented that the Immigration Director-General Datuk Mustafa had overridden a decision by the Cabinet twice to observe implementing visa-free entry for Chinese tourists to the disappointment of the industry.

Tan hopes the e-Visa implementation process will be expedited to boost tourist arrivals, thus allowing the entire tourism industry to recover.

In his 2016 Budget speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the tourism sector had the “highest potential” to generate economic activity in the current economic climate.

The government is targeting 30.5 million tourists for 2016 which is expected to generate RM103 billion for the national economy.

Tan also applauded the announcement that economy class passengers on Rural Air Services routes in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will be exempted from GST.

“For Sabah and Sarawak, flights are essential services. We are glad the government has lessened the people’s burden especially since air transportation is so crucial in East Malaysia. However, we hope that Sandakan and Tawau will also be included under this category of rural air service routes and enjoy GST exempt status” said Tan.

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