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Travel agents play down Malaysia visa tightening

08-11-2010 13:56 BJT

The halting of Malaysian visas on arrival for Chinese visitors, which comes in to effect from August 15, will have little impact on the business of Shanghai's travel agencies, local operators have said.

"Most of our customers going to Malaysia choose package tours, so we apply for visas in advance on their behalf," Ge Huiliang, team leader of the overseas department of Shanghai Spring International Travel Service's Xizang Road Middle branch, told the Global Times Sunday. "The procedures are simple, and require only several days. Plus, Malaysian visas on arrival cost $100, compared to the 280 yuan ($41) charge for a normal visa."

Another major travel agency, Shanghai Jinjiang International Travel Company, follows the same practice with its package tours to Malaysia. Yang Dong, manager of the company's outbound tour department, told the Global Times that visa on arrival is a common service offered by many tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

"Individual tourists can also authorize travel agencies to apply for visas in advance," said Yang. "It will affect tourists who go to Singapore and want to visit neighboring Malaysia."

The sudden change in visa policy is part of the Malaysian government's effort to curb illegal labor in the country. Visas on arrival were intended to boost Malaysia's travel industry, which is the second pillar industry of the country.

As well as Chinese mainland tourists, visitors from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Taiwan and Comoros who could previously take advantage of Malaysia's visa on arrival services will no longer be able to do so.

"This won't make much of a difference to me, since I always plan my trips in advance," said Guan Xian, a 30-year-old Shanghai native.

According to recent statistics released by the National Tourism Administration, the number of people leaving China to go on holiday increased 16 percent year-on-year for the first half of this year, and is expected to total 53 million for 2010.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China.org.cn

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