By Zahara Zuhair
Visa restrictions imposed on Sri Lankans travelling to Malaysia will be eased soon, Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Dato Daljit Singh said.
“We are trying to ease the visa application, we are trying our best ways, We want to give Sri Lankan’s the best convenient way to travel to Malaysia,” he said, at a media briefing held in Colombo, aimed at raising awareness on Malaysia as a destination of choice.
At the media briefing, journalists posed many questions over the ‘very restrictive’ visa procedure as they raised concern over the number of documents and information that has to be provided by a normal tourist which have caused inconvenience.“We are going to make a report on this immediately and send it to the Malaysian government,” Singh said noting that Sri Lanka was a significant market for them.
“We processed almost 45,000 visas for Sri Lankan visitors to Malaysia last year, 10 percent could be business, the rest are tourists. We are expecting 60,000 Sri Lankan visitors in 2016,” he said.
Although 61,670 Sri Lankans had visited Malaysia in 2014, they dropped by 16.8 precent in 2015 as they received only 51,337 Sri Lankan visitors.
Another aspect highlighted was the visa fee that had been increased from Rs.500 to Rs.4600 after it was outsourced to Foshwa Lanka.“We can bring it down,” the officials representing the Malaysian tourism board said.
Furthermore, It was suggested that the e-visa facility should be offered to Sri Lankans visitors as well. Besides that Singh said that they are encouraging tour operators in the island to develop more holiday packages with special focus on niche products like premium shopping, luxury travels and sports tourism, such as golf, Formula One and Moto GP.
He also welcomed Sri Lankan movie makers to visit Malaysia, as they will be offered beneficial packages when they shoot their films in the country.
As Malaysia achieved its target of receiving 27 million tourists to the country in the previous year, it expects to receive 36 million visitors in 2020.
At present, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Malindo Air and Sri Lankan Airlines offer a total of 38 direct flights weekly from Sri Lanka, offering 5,898 seats.