MUMBAI – Malaysia plans to waive the visa fee for high-spending Indians as a strategy to hit the 29.4 million international tourist arrivals this year.
Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said Malaysia needs an additional two million visitors to reach the new record target.
Mohamed Nazri added Indians have made Malaysia one of their favourite destinations in Asean, where 643,335 tourists arrived for the first 10 months (January-October) last year, which was a 20.7 per cent growth.
Last year about 1.4 million Indians visited Malaysia and splashed nearly RM1.8 billion between January and September in 2014, compared with RM1.3 billion during the corresponding period in 2013.
India was the fifth largest source of tourists for Malaysia.
Mohamed Nazri said that waiving the visa fee for Indian tourists was part of Malaysiaâ€™s plans to target for 29.4 million arrivals from around the globe in 2015.
He said currently an Indian traveller spends about RM350 to RM400 for visa fee and other related payments.
The minister disclosed that an Indian tourist stays on average of 6.6 days in Malaysia and spends about RM2,900 during the entire visit.
“Indian tourists are big spenders especially when it comes to shopping, like the Chinese tourists.
â€œWe at the ministry are strongly in favour of such a good gesture to be extended to our Indian guests as well,” Mohamed Nazri told Bernama before launching the Myfest 2015 promotion campaign in Mumbai, Indiaâ€™s financial capital, here yesterday.
Countries like China, South Korea and Japan are already enjoying the no visa fee privilege.
Mohamed Nazri said there was vast potential for further growth of the Indian travel trade to Malaysia, as four major airlines planned to increase direct weekly flights to Malaysia.
Currently, there are 156 flights per week connecting Malaysia and key Indian cities, offering nearly 30,000 seats.
The minister also pointed out last year, total arrivals of international tourists stood at 27.4 million and the ministry was actively organising promotion campaigns, not only in India but also other Indian sub-continent countries to promote Malaysia.
“We need to bring at least two million more tourists into the country to meet our target this year, with estimated revenue of RM80 billion or we will lose out to other Asean countries, which already implemented such exemption (visa fee waiver),â€ he said.
He also said Indians wishing to stay longer in Malaysia could choose the Malaysia’s Second Home Programme, where they can stay up to 10 years without visa requirement.
In Mumbai, the MyFest 2015 was lunched in a festivity mood, where some 100 youths performed â€œflash mob danceâ€, dancing to two popular tunes of Tourism Malaysia and Celebrating 1Malaysia theme songs.
The event caused a brief traffic jam near the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel as visitors converged to watch the dances near the landmark Gate of India monument.
Thrilled by the dances, the minister himself joined in the fun. – BERNAMA