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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Visitors from Balkan and South Asian countries to boost tourism
PETALING JAYA: Nationals of Balkan and South Asian countries, who will be granted the e-visa facility under Budget 2017, will boost Malaysia’s tourism, said the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association.
“They love to go for holidays in South-East Asia and Malaysia is a new destination for them, so we have to grab that opportunity,” said association president Uzaidi Udanis.
The move, he said, would help Malaysia tap into emerging tourist markets in the Balkans and South Asia.
“(The Balkans) is a new market and there has been an increase in inquiries from those areas,” he said.
He added that the e-visa would make it easier for tourists to visit Malaysia.
However, he hoped that the Government would also look into visa-free entry for citizens from more countries.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat agreed, saying that more countries should be granted visa-free entry to boost tourist arrivals into Malaysia.
“In the spirit of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, it’s the aim to have borderless, visa-free tourism,” he said.
Hamzah felt that Budget 2017 did not address many other needs of the tourism and travel industry.
“For example, we have been asking for concessions to import newer high-end tourist vehicles,” he said, adding that tax exemption was also left out for three-star hotels, which were a favourite choice of tourists.
Malaysian Association of Hotels president Sam Cheah lauded the move to extend the Investment Tax Allowance for new four- and five-star hotels till Dec 31, 2018.
“It shows that the Government is emphasising high-spending tourists,” he said.