Malaysia announced on Tuesday it would introduce e-visas for travelers from China in an effort to boost tourism between the two countries.
Malaysia also waived the visa requirements for Chinese tourists who stay less than 15 days in the country from March 1 to December 31, 2016, Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Malaysia said at a press conference in Beijing.
The e-visa system will be carried out in three stages, beginning with an introduction for visitors from the Chinese mainland, and then to Chinese citizens who live outside the mainland. Finally, it will be extended to countries including India, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Malaysia will allow visitors e-visa stays of up to 30 days, though some visitors will be approved for as many as 90 days, the traveling department said.
In an exclusive interview with the Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture in Malaysia, he told the Global Times that the policy was designed to attract Chinese tourists amid competition from neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea.
The Southern Daily reported on Wednesday that South Korea is expected to double the period of visa-free entry for Chinese transfer passengers to 10 years.
Last year, 1.6 million people traveled from China to Malaysia, he said.
The ministry expects that number to hit at least 2 million this year, and possibly reach as high as 4 million.
Although the global economy has slowed, the tourism industry has continued to grow.
The Malaysian government believes that the tourism industry will stimulate trade and investment, as well as create job opportunities in the country.
Tourism contributed approximately $38.1 billion to Malaysia’s GDP in 2014, accounting for 14.9 percent of the total.
Foreign tourists spent about $17 billion in the country over the course of the year, according to a note the ministry sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.