PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is working to get five million Chinese tourists to visit the country this year — a 60% increase compared to what it received in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing said Malaysia received 3.1 million tourist arrivals from China in 2019, before Covid-19 hit the industry.
Bernama reported him as saying that the new target was set following China’s decision to reopen its borders on Jan 8 after three years of restrictions following the pandemic.
“We are happy to see tourists arriving in the country to drive the tourism sector and, in turn, the national economy.
“I hope that tourists from other countries will also visit Malaysia,” he said during a press conference after presenting souvenirs in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration to tourists arriving from Hong Kong and China at KLIA here today.
Tiong said with China allowing group tours to 20 countries, including Malaysia, from Feb 6, this target was achievable.
The other 19 countries listed are Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Singapore, Laos, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.
Tiong said every Chinese tourist would undergo Covid-19 screening in their country before coming to Malaysia.
He urged all Malaysians to continue to prioritise their own health and maintain standard operating procedures at all times to curb the spread of the disease.
“Even if the Covid-19 virus is still present, we have to move on and take care of our own health,” he said while urging various parties to work with the ministry to promote tourism and help revitalise the sector.
Recently, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) said it had complete faith in the health ministry managing the arrival of Chinese tourists, just as they did with other travellers from abroad.