Home Ministry: Chinese tourists’ visa-free entry for 15-day visits an annual scheme, security assured

Ida Lim
A police officer checks the travel documents and passports of passengers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang in this file picture. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — The recent government gazette announcing visa-free entry for 2020 for tourists from China on trips not exceeding 15 days to Malaysia is merely a normal procedure that has been renewed annually since its 2016 introduction, the Home Ministry said today.

The Home Ministry explained that the government gazette dated December 23 was to enable the visa-free facility known as the Electronic Travel Registration and Information (eNTRI) for Chinese tourists.

“This gazette is a normal procedure carried out each year since this initiative was introduced in 2016,” the ministry said in a statement.

Noting that the visa-free facility was aimed at strengthening the local tourism industry, the ministry said the government had first announced this initiative for Chinese tourists on January 28, 2016 with the visa exemption scheme in place from March 1 to December 31, 2016 and that this was later expanded to Indian tourists from April 1, 2017 with annual renewals based on necessity.

The ministry noted that the eNTRI system was an improvement on the Visa On Arrival mechanism as the security aspect was part of the eNTRI system and fully under the Immigration Department’s control.

The Home Ministry also explained the security measures in place despite the exemption of visa for such short visits by the tourists.

“Permission for tourist entry is still subject to existing rules, procedures and immigration controls at entry points where Notice of Entry Rejection can be issued if the tourist is listed in the Immigration Department’s blacklist or suspect list or categorised as banned immigrant,” it said in the same statement.

The ministry said tourists from China and India are still required to register details through the eNTRI system despite the visa exemption, noting that this was a control measure by the government through the Immigration Department that would monitor and make verifications on tourists using the visa-free facility.

The ministry also highlighted that the “cooling-off” period of 45 days before such tourists could reapply for entry to Malaysia through the eNTRI system also prevented abuse of the visa-free facility.

Noting attempts to link the visa-free system to the overstaying of some Chinese nationals in Malaysia, the ministry stressed that the Immigration Department frequently carries out operations to tackle illegal immigrants and tourists who stay on beyond the allowed period.

“Stern action is taken on foreigners found to have breached immigration laws by arresting, prosecuting in court, and deporting them to their country of origin,” the ministry said, adding that both the ministry and immigration department always prioritises national security and would never compromise in matters affecting national security and national peace.

In the government gazettes dated December 23 and published December 26, the government granted orders for the 15-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India through the eNTRI system from the period of January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

The tourists have to travel to Malaysia within three months of applying under eNTRI, and with the 15-day travel period not extendable.

These tourists can only enter Malaysia through designated airports or listed immigration control posts, and are required to have a flight ticket back to their country or any other country if they are travelling by air.

Upon arrival in Malaysia, the tourists have to show proof of sufficient cash, a credit card or bank card and their itinerary in Malaysia, the gazetted orders said.

They can only re-register under eNTRI to enter Malaysia after 45 days from the date of departure from Malaysia.

Next year has been designated Visit Malaysia 2020, with Malaysia setting the targets of attracting 30 million tourists from abroad and generating RM100 billion in tourist receipts.

Malaysia drew 25.83 million tourists with tourist receipts of RM84.1 billion for the year 2018, and has a 2019 target of 28.1 million tourists with RM92.2 billion of tourist receipts, based on official figures on the MyTourism Data Portal.

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