GEORGE TOWN: Tourism players in Penang have welcomed the call by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing for Malaysia to consider providing visa-on-arrival for all countries to remain competitive in the global tourism industry.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang Chapter chairman Tony Goh and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Penang chapter chairman Vergis Mathews said such news was highly encouraging as the country, in general, and Penang, in particular, were seeing resilient rebound of the tourism industry.

Goh told the New Straits Times that MAH supported such a move as it would encourage more visitors into the country, with easy access.

"Numerous travel requirements were imposed on visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic, and after the pandemic, many visitors are still unsure of these requirements in place.

"With the visa-on-arrival, all these issues can be addressed promptly and visitors will find it easier to enter the country," he said.

Goh hoped the visa-on-arrival could be implemented swiftly without any major hiccups.

"We must ensure that all systems are in place before we implement it. We don't want to have long queues at our airports due to system breakdowns and such.

"So, we must ensure that it is as hassle-less as possible for us to put it into practice," he added.

In his keynote address at the 2023 ASEAN Tourism Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which ended yesterday, Tiong had said that Malaysia should considere providing visa-on-arrival for all countries to remain competitive in the global tourism industry.

He said Malaysia should be sensitive to market trends and allow such re-opening initiatives as the local tourism industry was still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

He also expressed confidence that the Malaysian authorities were capable of coping with passenger surges and maintaining order at entry points across the country, adding that security should not be used as a pretext to hinder tourist arrivals.

Commenting on the matter, Vergis said the visa-on-arrival was very encouraging news and that it was something MATTA had long requested.

Elaborating, he said it was sometimes a hindrance getting a visa in one's own country.

"This visa-on-arrival will be a great benchmark. With this in place, Malaysia can be a yardstick for other countries. This is a wonderful piece of news for the tourism industry," he said.

Vergis said, since the formation of the unity government, the Tourism and Transport Ministers had done all things possible to ensure tourists would not shy away from Malaysia.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

2023-02-08T09:22:54Z dg43tfdfdgfd