KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has set up its fifth visa processing centre in China in a bid to reach its aim of achieving a record of 4 million tourists from there this year.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the office in Xiamen, the capital of Fujian province, will serve to woo 1 million potential tourists from the area to help reach the target.
“The Fujian Promotion Centre will help Malaysia to further boost its tourism economy as China is currently the third largest source country of tourist arrivals to Malaysia,” he said.
The other visa centres are in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming, Nazri said in his speech when launching the Malaysia-Xiamen Chamber of Commerce here today.
He said while the government hoped to attract 4 million Chinese tourists this year, it also wanted to see the number increase to 8 million by 2020.
Nazri had announced these targets in September last year when he said that of the 140 million tourists going overseas from China only 1.6 million visited Malaysia in 2015 compared to 8 million who visited Thailand that same year.
“But since these tourists are of quality and have money, we feel we should give it our focus… Firstly, they are of quality and, secondly, it is only about six hours to here (Malaysia) from China,” he had added.
Nazri also said today that the ministry was targeting to rake in about RM114 billion in tourist receipts from all international arrivals this year and RM168 billion from the targeted 36 million international tourists by 2020.
He added that China remained Malaysia’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching RM240.9 billion in 2016, amounting to 16.2% of Malaysia’s total trade.
In the first quarter of 2017, the bilateral trade came up to RM68.74 billion, he added.
“Next to trade, education cooperation is also strengthening and this can be seen with the setting up of Xiamen University’s first overseas campus in Malaysia,” he said.
The campus in Sepang has the distinction of being the first overseas campus set up by a Chinese university.
Xiamen University is ranked ninth among the more than 2,000 universities in China, and 37th in Asia.