Malaysia Joins Thailand and Sri Lanka in Offering Visa-Free Entry to Indians
Malaysia Joins Thailand and Sri Lanka in Offering Visa-Free Entry to Indians

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia declared the country's plan to grant a 30-day visa-free entry to both Indian and Chinese citizens starting from December 1. This move aligns Malaysia with recent initiatives in Thailand and Sri Lanka, aimed at facilitating tourism by providing entry privileges to foreigners.

Ibrahim highlighted that this exemption adds to the current visa-free access already available to Gulf nations and several West Asian countries, such as Turkiye and Jordan.

However, Ibrahim, who also holds the position of Finance Minister, emphasized that the visa exemption would be subject to stringent security screening, according to the official Bernama news agency.

"Every tourist and visitor entering Malaysia will undergo initial screenings. Security measures are crucial. Individuals with criminal records or potential terrorism concerns will not be permitted entry," stated the Prime Minister, indicating that security and immigration authorities would oversee this aspect.

The 30-day visa-free entry privilege is presently extended to eight ASEAN countries for purposes encompassing social visits, tourism, and business.

Malaysia aims to attract 16.1 million international tourists, targeting tourism receipts of RM 49.3 billion. India stands as one of the significant contributors to Malaysia's tourist arrivals.

In 2022, Malaysia welcomed a total of 324,548 Indian tourists. In the first quarter of 2023, the number soared to 164,566 Indian tourists compared to 13,370 in the same period the previous year, according to data from Tourism Malaysia.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Malaysia disclosed that there are currently 158 flights per week, offering 30,032 seats between India and Malaysia via airlines like Malaysia Airlines, Batik Air, AirAsia, and IndiGo.

This decision by Malaysia mirrors similar moves by Sri Lanka and Thailand to waive visa requirements.

Sri Lanka introduced a visa-free entry program for visitors from India and six other countries, spanning China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. This initiative is slated to remain in effect until March 31, 2024, with the Tourism Ministry aiming to attract five million tourists in the upcoming years.

Thailand also eliminated visa requirements for visitors from India and Taiwan. Indian passport holders can now travel to Thailand without a visa, allowing a stay of up to 30 days, effective from November 10, 2023, until May 10, 2024.

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