Malaysia woos Lankan tourists; vows to ease visa procedures

BUP_DFTDFT-7From left: Malaysia Tourism Senior Deputy Director International Marketing Division Salahuddin Mohommed Ariffin, Charge d’Affaires Azhar Bin Mat, Malaysia Tourist Board Director and Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Tourism and Culture Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Daljit Singh and Tourism Malaysia (Chennai) Director Noor Azman Bin Samsudin – Pic by Lasantha Kumara

By Shehana Dain

Putting a personal touch to efforts to boost Sri Lankan tourists into Malaysia, a top official yesterday reaffirmed his stance to remove any red tape giving unwelcome signals when obtaining visa, assuring that his Government would leave no stone unturned in supporting this cause.

Addressing a press gathering to invite Sri Lankans to visit Malaysia, Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Daljit Singh faced criticism from journalists who claimed that the process to acquire a visa for any purpose had become increasingly exhaustive.

Singh who is also a member in the Malaysia Tourism Board asserted that he would take every measure to make sure passage to Malaysia was made smoother. He also stated that he would pass the message to his superiors, promising to compile a report regarding the issue.

“I value these sentiments from the press and it’s our duty to ease the traveller experience to Malaysia. I will make a report on this and pass the message to the ministry. We are not giving any country any special privilege. We have received many complaints from India as well and we are hoping to definitely change this. There may be bilateral reasons this is happening; however I am hoping to resolve this and do as much as I can. There has unfortunately been a decline in tourist arrivals from Sri Lanka and we are hoping to change it this year to get back the previous numbers or maybe more.”

Sri Lankan tourist arrivals to Malaysia in 2015 had recorded a drop of 16% to 51,337 compared to 61,670 tourists in 2014.

Since the Malaysian Government outsourced its visa process to a private company in 2014 the fee has reportedly increased from Rs. 550 to Rs. 4,600, which deters tourists to travel to the country. Recently Malaysian authorities faced a dispute in Myanmar with recruitment agencies due to Visa processing fees which ultimately resulted in 2,400 workers getting their fee waived.

Additionally, as part of its efforts to raise awareness on Malaysia as a destination of choice, Tourism Malaysia has embarked on a sales mission to India and Sri Lanka. The nine-day sales mission covered the Indian cities of Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Leading the Malaysian delegation was Singh, accompanied by senior officials from the Tourism Board. The delegation also comprised of 57 representatives from 16 travel agents, 10 hotels and resorts, six tourism products, two State tourism authorities, and four airlines. Some of the notable delegates included Genting Malaysia Bhd, Legoland Malaysia Resort, Sunway Lagoon, Tourism Johor, Tourism Selangor, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, and Air Asia.

The sales mission served as a platform to engage with the local media and update them on the latest tourism developments and products, as well as to network with the local tour operators, product owners, and airlines. It is expected to increase tourist arrivals and receipts from the South Asian market during the peak travelling season from May to July.

During the Sales Mission, Tourism Malaysia also organised a travel mart for the travel trade players to meet and network. This was a platform to showcase Malaysia’s diverse tourism offerings and highlight the scope for collaboration between travel agents in Malaysia and India.

Malaysia’s tourism sector continued to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy in 2015. Global tourist arrivals were at 25.7 million with receipts up to RM 69.1 billion. The South Asian market is important to Malaysia, having contributed 1.3 million tourists in 2014. The country has set a target of 30.5 million and tourism is also the second largest forex earner for the country with RM 70.2 billion recorded for 2015.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/529178/Malaysia-woos-Lankan-tourists–vows-to-ease-visa-procedures#sthash.V5eugEBB.dpuf

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