KUALA LUMPUR, 15 November – Strict visa rules and requirements are hampering tourist arrivals in Malaysia and obstructing tourists from visiting the country, said Malaysian Tourism Minister Nancy Shukry.
The Tourism, arts and culture minister said in an interview with local news outlet Free Malaysia Today that her ministry was initially pleased with the recovery in the tourism industry since the reopening of borders.
According to her, Malaysia surpassed its target of attracting two million international visitors in the first quarter of 2022.
“The situation later appeared (even more) promising, so we increased the target to 4.5 million visitors, and then to 9.2 million after a review,” she said.
However, the minister noted that she realised the target might not be feasible because of “stringent immigration rules”.
“We expected the country’s economy to be spurred by tourists who would be spending RM26.8 billion, but it appears that entering the country was difficult for them, so they chose to travel elsewhere.
“I believe they were unable to enter the country because of visa issues,” she said.
Shukri added that her ministry needs to work on this issue with relevant agencies.
“Also, every industry player must come together and discuss what needs to be done so that our economy doesn’t deteriorate as this will make many people’s lives difficult.
“We don’t want Malaysia to be the people’s second or third choice of travel destination just because of visa issues,” she said.
With the global economy headed for a recession next year, Nancy said tourism could help keep the country’s economy afloat.
She also said the ministry had introduced two matching grant programmes that would help support the industry in drawing tourists.
These are the Geran Sepadan Sektor Pelancongan for tourism programmes and the Geran Sepadan Sektor Kebudayaan for cultural events.