KOTA KINABALU: The decision by the Federal Government to give 30-day visa-free entry into Malaysia from China and India beginning Dcember 1, 2023 augurs well with Sabah’s target of 2.2 million arrivals this year.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, in welcoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement, said so far Sabah has already achieved 85.6 per cent of the target.
“I have mentioned that now that normalcy has returned to the tourism industry, the State Government has launched a tourism recovery campaign to attract tourists back to Sabah.
“To date, Sabah is connected to eight major Chinese cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Macau and Hong Kong with 63 weekly flights and seating capacity of 11,360,” he said.
Records from January to September this year showed the number of arrivals from China as 45,801 compared to only 4,162 arrivals for the same period last year, he added.
For Indian arrivals to Sabah, there had been an upward trend with 4,176 arrivals up to September this year compared to 2,734 for the same period last year.
The Chief Minister reiterated that with the introduction of the 30-day visa-free entry policy for visitors from the world’s two most populous countries, it would assist in speeding up the recovery process for the tourism sector.
We hope to see more air connectivity to increase visitor arrivals to Sabah, he said.
Reciprocating Malaysia’s stand, it was reported that China had decided to offer visa-free entry to travelers holding ordinary passports from Malaysia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024, China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that citizens from Malaysia and the other European countries are able to enter China without a visa and to stay for no morethan 15 days for business, tourism, family visits and transit purposes.