KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet is likely to decide today whether to waive the visa fee of 80 yuan (RM46) for Chinese tourists.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, however, said the Cabinet was not looking at abolishing the visa requirement.
“It is not (going to be) visa-free. It is a visa fee waiver,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Commenting on the call by business groups for the visa requirement to be abolished to attract Chinese tourists, Nazri said it was not likely.
Besides potential security concerns, he said there needed to be regional cooperation among Asean countries.
“No, we can’t do that (allow visa-free entry). The Chinese government may also not allow this as they will want to control their people coming here.
“If we were to allow visa-free entry, it should involve a working cooperation between one regional group with another.
“For example, we could give European Union citizens visa-free entry if this is in cooperation on a regional basis. I don’t think Malaysia alone can do this. It needs to be an Asean initiative,” he said.
Should the Cabinet agree to the visa fee waiver for Chinese tourists, Nazri said this would need to be implemented “as soon as possible” to attract those travelling during the Spring Festival period.
Nazri said such a waiver was to compete with countries like Indonesia and Thailand, which had eased visa requirements for China tourists.
“Since October, there has been a positive 6% growth in the number of Chinese tourists compared to the previous year,” he said after opening the final phase of the 1,600 Pandas World Tour here yesterday.
The 1,600 paper-mache pandas, which have travelled to over 15 locations, including Batu Caves and the Taiping Lake Gardens, are now at the Publika mall here until Jan 25.
In his speech, Nazri called for groups to look into the conservation of another “black and white” animal – the equally endangered Malayan tapir.