After VOA more improvements needed to increase tourism: NGOs

PETALING JAYA: The move to implement Visa on Arrival (VOA) in Langkawi has been lauded by stakeholders in the tourism sector, but they have asked for extra steps to be taken by the government to boost tourist arrivals.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, told theSun that air connectivity and visa policies are crucial.

“VOA for Langkawi certainly will boost arrivals but the conditions can be modified,“ he said. “Currently VOA is only available to Indian and Chinese nationals arriving from Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia through certain entry points in Malaysia.”

Tan also said inbound players could revise their tour itineraries and tap this new development based on the change in visa requirements.

“Matta has in fact been vocal on this issue and we are glad the government has heard our request for Langkawi,“ he added.

He suggested that the government give more funding to overseas promotions and upgrading of travel infrastructure and the tourist’s experience.

Tan said the move should also be implemented in other appropriate entry points into Malaysia, including over land and seaports.

He added that the maximum days of stay for VOA should be extended to two weeks instead of the current seven days.

Meanwhile, CEO of Malaysian Association of Hotels, Yap Lip Seng said VOA needs to be implemented strategically. He noted that flight connectivity and reachability could be improved.

“There are not many scheduled international flights arriving at Langkawi, due to various limitations including airport facilities and services,” Yap said.

He said Malaysia needs to be competitive in tourism as neighbouring countries had already implemented many deregulation strategies for tourism and VOA is one of them.

“Evidently the strategy worked as Asean countries recorded increase year over year on tourist arrivals while Malaysia recorded a drop again from 25,948,459 number of arrivals in 2017 to 25,832,354 in 2018,“ he added.