Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim unveiled a momentous decision during his address at the People's Justice Party congress on Sunday: citizens from India and China will enjoy visa-free entry into Malaysia for a period of up to 30 days starting December 1. This official announcement was further corroborated by Malaysia's Home Affairs Ministry in a statement released on Monday, stipulating the visa waiver until December 31, 2024.
This strategic decision holds substantial importance as China and India stand as the fourth and fifth-largest tourist contributors to Malaysia, respectively. Statistical data from the government highlights that between January and June of this year, Malaysia welcomed a total of 9.16 million tourists, with 498,540 arrivals from China and 283,885 from India. Comparatively, in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic struck, Malaysia hosted 1.5 million tourists from China and 354,486 from India.
The move comes in the wake of China's recent announcement to offer visa-free entry to Malaysian citizens and various European nationals, set to commence next month. Neighboring Thailand, heavily reliant on its tourism sector, has also taken steps to exempt Chinese and Indian nationals, among others, from visa requirements.
Notably, Sri Lanka's Cabinet recently greenlit the issuance of free visas as a pilot project to individuals from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand until March 31, 2024, aiming to facilitate travel and bolster tourism.
As part of reciprocal measures, Thailand initiated a 30-day visa-free entry program for visitors from India and Taiwan starting November 1, effective until May 10, 2024. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavision emphasized that this decision was prompted by the significant interest citizens of India and Taiwan have shown in visiting Thailand."