MUMBAI: Visa fees are to be waived for tourists from India, to encourage more of them to visit Malaysia and go shopping.
An Indian traveller currently spends about RM350 to RM400 on the visa and other related payments.
Tourism minister Nazri Aziz said the waiver was among the means of bringing in an additional two million visitors, and reach a target of 29.4 million international tourist arrivals this year.
Last year about 1.4 million Indians visited Malaysia, and accounted for nearly RM1.8 billion in tourism earnings 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, which was one of their favourite Asean destinations.
Nazri said Indian tourists, on the average, stay about six and a half days in Malaysia, spending about RM2,900 during the visit.
“Indian tourists are big spenders especially when it comes to shopping, like the Chinese tourists,” Nazri said.
Tourists from China, South Korea and Japan already enjoy free-visa privileges. “We at the ministry are strongly in favour of such a good gesture to be extended to our Indian guests as well,” Mohamed Nazri said before launching the Myfest 2015 promotion campaign in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, here yesterday.
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),” he said.
He also said Indians wishing to stay longer in Malaysia could choose Malaysia’s Second Home Programme, where they can live in Malaysia for up to 10 years without visa requirement.