In a welcome move to boost tourism between the two countries, Malaysia has introduced multiple-entry visas for up to 15 days for Indian tourists.
What are multiple-entry visas?
There are essentially two types of visas (both are valid for a fixed period and cannot be used after they expire):
- a single entry visa and
- a multiple entry visa.
A multiple entry visa allows visitors to come to and go from a foreign country for six months at a time without having to reapply each time. It can be valid for up to 10 years or one month before your passport expires, whichever is earlier.
A single entry visa allows you to come to and go from a foreign country for only one time. After that one time, you will have to apply again to visit that foreign country.
The move was met positively by the general public and authorities. AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman and AirAsia X Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said the airline applauds the announcement of a multiple-entry eVisa. Stating that there is an urgent need to ensure hassle-free travel for Indians and Malaysians, he said, “This good news will certainly encourage tourists travelling between both countries, and contribute to higher receipts from travel and tourism, which will then provide immediate contribution to economic growth.”
This move would make air travel easier and would decrease travel tensions and encourage more people to visit Malaysia and vice versa.
In 2015, 722,141 Indian tourists visited Malaysia, compared to 272,941 Malaysians who visited India on tourist visas. However, Malaysia’s tourism industry experienced losses in the past two years. As such, making international travel to Malaysia easier and more flexible will go a long way in energising its travel industry.
As shown in the chart, the number of tourist arrivals in Malaysia decreased from 27,437,315 in 2014 to 25,721,251 in 2015. Such negative changes can be combated by employing tactics like easy passport access, free visas, and multiple entry visas.
In February 2017, Malaysian authorities stated their aim to attract one million tourists from India this year. To achieve this, they have stepped up tourism promotion efforts. “This year, we hope to achieve high targets from India, as much as one million arrivals,” Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said at the inaugural ceremony of South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) in New Delhi in February this year.
The recent move will help the two countries improve bilateral ties and tourist exchange. Possibly Malaysia could accomplish its one million target this year. This will be particularly fruitful given the potential benefits of the visa rule to airline carriers like AirAsia which can now decrease air travel fares further.