Letter to Editor
MALAYSIA is taking a risk with its one-month visa-free travel starting from Dec 1 for citizens from India and China now that there is a slight resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the country.
With this incentive, year-end tourism can get a big boost as it is the preferred time for travelling with the family due to the festive holidays.
After all, the country is desperate to revive its sluggish economy and the slowdown in the tourism industry since the COVID-19 pandemic.
If there are very large numbers of tourists coming from these two countries, some precautions need to be taken by all – locals and foreigners – to help stop infections as there have been reports of new variants in China.
The current rainy spell also usually results in various ailments especially flu, cough, runny nose, headache and fever.
There is a possibility of an influx of tourists from China for the Chinese New Year. The local economy can benefit much if tourism arrivals and spending can increase exponentially.
The government has been thoughtful about this year-end incentive as tourist spending can stimulate the local SMEs and service sector who have to pay the annual and festive bonuses for their workers.
A timely boost will somewhat help them in easing their financial woes. It is hoped that the visa-free incentive will have a wide-ranging economic and commercial multiplier and spillover effects that boost the morale of the people who have been subjected to a litany of economic woes such as the higher cost of living, lower consumption rates, reduced incomes and unemployment.
Visa-free travel is a tourism booster for many countries whenever they feel there is a slowdown of international tourist arrivals.
This is a good tool in the hands of policymakers as tourism is now a multi-billion dollar industry supporting and employing millions worldwide.
The main problem associated with visa-free travel especially for a month or a limited period is that it will be abused, and the authorities need to ensure that the tourists and travellers return back to their countries.
Malaysia has had a major problem with this as quite a number of those coming as tourists do not return but become a liability. Some seek work and business opportunities and stay as long as they can.
The Home Ministry then has to take action against these culprits, some of whom may be involved in economic crimes, scams and swindling unsuspecting people. The image of the country too could be affected by the severe action taken against these offenders when they are rounded up by the authorities. – Dec 4, 2023
V. Thomas is a Focus Malaysia viewer.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: FMT