KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Malaysia should review the visa fee it imposes on tourists from select countries in order to boost its attractiveness as a holiday destination, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng suggested today.
He noted that a similar move trialled in Thailand last year has proven effective, with Bangkok extending the programme until the end of October this year.
“The world has seen the success of this programme in Thailand and now even Russia is adopting it. Malaysia must look into waiving the visa fee to draw in more tourists.
“We should at least look at implementing it for the ‘winter’ months, and to immediately promote it heavily to potential visitors who are seeking to escape the cold,” Lim said in a statement.
The DAP lawmaker added that tourism generated nearly RM42 billion in the first half of the year and could be further encouraged to help spur the economy for the benefit of mid- to low-income earners.
Lim suggested that even a minimal boost of 5 per cent in tourist spending would be able to generate an extra RM2 billion in receipts for Malaysia.
“Let us be proactive and seize the opportunity now,” he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country will offer free electronic visas to visitors from 53 countries including Malaysia starting next month, in an attempt to boost tourism receipts for his country ahead of the next presidential election.
The scheme allows leisure travellers to remain in the country for eight days out of the month-long validity period.
The move follows Thailand’s decision to waive its THB2,000 (RM275) fee for tourist visas that began in November last year and was extended to October 31, 2019.
Malaysia imposes a variable fee of between RM6.50 to RM50 on foreign visitors, depending on their country of origin.