Malaysia Grants 30-Day Visa-Free Entry for Indian Citizens
In a significant move to boost tourism, Malaysia has announced the granting of a 30-day visa-free entry for Indian citizens, effective from December 1. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced during a Sunday speech at the People’s Justice Party congress, confirming that Chinese citizens will also enjoy the same privilege.
This decision comes as part of Malaysia’s strategy to promote tourism and attract foreign visitors, with Mr. Ibrahim emphasizing the importance of the waiver in fostering international relations. Notably, Malaysia has joined Thailand and Sri Lanka in providing this facility to Indians, recognizing the potential economic benefits.
What the Visa Exemption Covers
The visa exemption applies to social visits, tourism, and business purposes. However, Prime Minister Ibrahim, also the Finance Minister, highlighted that the exemption is contingent upon rigorous security screenings. “Initial screenings will be conducted for all tourists and visitors to Malaysia. Security is a different matter. If there are criminal records or the risk of terrorism, they will not be allowed to enter,” he stated.
The move follows similar visa waivers implemented by Sri Lanka and Thailand. Sri Lanka’s initiative covers visitors from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, aiming to boost tourist arrivals until March 31, 2024. Thailand has also lifted visa requirements for Indian and Taiwanese visitors, allowing a 30-day visa-free access from November 10, 2023, to May 10, 2024.
Malaysia’s decision will significantly impact its tourism sector, with India being among the top countries contributing to tourist arrivals. In 2022, Malaysia welcomed 3,24,548 Indian tourists, and in the first quarter of 2023, the number increased to 1,64,566, showcasing a growing trend.
What’s the Idea Behind the Visa-Free Entry?
Government data indicates that China and India are Malaysia’s fourth and fifth-largest tourist markets, representing a substantial portion of the 9.16 million tourists the country welcomed between January and June of the current year.
The visa exemptions for Indian and Chinese citizens will remain in effect until December 31, 2024, providing a considerable window for potential visitors. Malaysia’s move aligns with similar measures by neighbouring countries, reflecting a regional effort to stimulate tourism post-pandemic.
As Malaysia strives to attract international tourists and investors, the country’s decision to grant visa-free entry is a positive signal for business opportunities. Investors are likely to view Malaysia favourably as a strategic destination, especially considering the thriving tourism industry and the government’s commitment to facilitating international travel.
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