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Confusion over visa policy

16011104“We have done our job. We issued a notice to the Chinese immigration officials on Nov 27, and have forwarded the notice to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing as well as the ministry of tourism and culture.”

PETALING JAYA, Jan 10 (Sin Chew Daily) — Local travel industry operators have put the blame on the immigration department for the delay in providing visa exemption facility to Chinese tourists to Malaysia.

As for the immigration department, many of its officials appear to be ignorant of such a measure decided earlier by the cabinet.

Immigration: We’ve done our job

Deputy director-general of Immigration (Control) Datuk Sakib Kusmi told Sin Chew Daily the measure was already being implemented on an experimental basis since last October although very few have adopted the measure.

Sakib emphasized that the immigration department had done its job to issue a notice on November 27 last year on the visa waiver facility for Chinese tourists traveling in groups of two or more between Dec 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016. However, the immigration department has never issued any statement or made any official announcement to industry operators.

“We have done our job. We issued a notice to the Chinese immigration authorities on Nov 27, and have forwarded the notice to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing as well as the ministry of tourism and culture.

“The notice dated Nov 27 has stated that Chinese tourists traveling in groups of two or more must first register with the Group Travel Registration System (GTRS) before they can enjoy the visa waiver facility.”

When contacted by Sin Chew Daily, a senior immigration department official said, “We only know of the exemption of 80-yuan visa fee for Chinese tourists. Nothing about visa exemption facility.

“There isn’t any decision on the exemption of visa requirement for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.”

Another official even said he had no idea about the cabinet decision except the exemption of 80-yuan visa fee for Chinese tourists.

No official announcement

Local tour operators are kept in the dark over the immigration department’s notice dated Nov 27, 2015. They said there was no way outsiders could gain access to government circulars.

When contacted by Sin Chew Daily through phone, Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) president Datuk Albert Tan said if the government were to implement any visa policy, it would normally need to issue a formal notice to the Malaysian Embassy in China, the tourism and culture ministry as well as Tourism Malaysia, followed by an official announcement.

Tan said normally tour operators would seek clarification on the latest developments on visa policy from the ministry or Tourism Malaysia, but the last two times MCTA approached them in November and December, it was told they were still waiting for the official announcement from the immigration department.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Hamzah Rahmat told Sin Chew Daily his association had never received any notification on any visa exemption policy, and that the so-called government notice was only for internal circulation.

“How do you expect us to know about this if the immigration department has not made an official announcement?” he asked.

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