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Friday, 13 January 2017

(The Star) China agencies promoting Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: From fishing trips to tropi­cal island paradises, tour agencies in China are promoting Malaysia even harder with news that tourists from the republic are ma­king a beeline here.
Fish Tales Adventures (Beijing) general manager Kevin Sun, whose company brings avid anglers to Malaysia on fishing trips, noted a positive upward trend in the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia.
While he has statistics to back the figures – the number of customers who signed on Fish Tales’ trips rose more than 20% last year compared to 2015 – Sun also made a few personal observations.
“Almost every flight from Beijing to Malay­sia that we were on was full, including first class. After our trips, we would always encounter a substantial number of fellow Chinese nationals at the immigration checkpoint in Kuala Lumpur airports for their flights back to China,” he said.
Not only that, Sun could see many of his friends posting photos of their vacations in Malaysia on his WeChat, a popular social networking app in China.
He said among the factors contributing to this encouraging development were close ties between the Malaysian and Chinese governments, increased frequency of flights inclu­ding that of budget airlines, and widespread use of the Chinese language in Malaysia.
The efforts of Malaysian tourism bureau and mainland tour agencies in promoting Ma­­lay­sia should not be overlooked either, he said.
UMI Tour (Beijing) International Travel Ser­­vice Co Ltd general manager Zheng Hailong said his company saw about 10% increase in the number of Chinese tourists to Malaysia, and most of them prefer free and easy trips.
“The tropical islands are particularly a magnet for mainlanders,” he said.
“I’m working on promoting in-depth travels, focusing on islands, ecotourism and urban deve­­lopment to present the colourful Malay­sia.”
The travel agencies have suggestions to boost the arrival and raise the standards of the tourism industry, including loosening the visa requirements further.
Sun said multiple entry visa should be made more accessible, while Zheng proposed visa exemption privilege for Chinese tourists.
On Sabah, Sun said the positive publicity on the efforts to maintain security in the coastal areas should be increased.
He also identified the need to train more Chinese-speaking guides, especially in the ecotourism sector, and saw huge potential in lesser known destinations such as Kedah, Pahang and Sarawak.
“Malaysia should also consider diversifying the types of tourism to include medical tourism, Malaysia My Second Home tour and real estate tourism,” Sun added.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now on a six-day visit to China, had said that the eVisa and visa waiver programmes for Chinese tourists attracted more Chinese nationals to visit Malaysia.

The number of travel documents issued to Chinese tourists between March and December last year saw a 74% increase year-on-year.