Visa-free travel opens ‘big door’ to region

From: Shenzhen Daily | Updated:2024-02-20

FOR millions of people across the Asia-Pacific region, traveling to and out of China is becoming easier than ever before.

University associate professor Sivakumar Kumaresan is hoping to return to Shangri-La in southwestern Yunnan Province now that China has granted visa-free access to Malaysian travelers. The 50-something Malaysian visited the city in 2017 and describes it as “one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.”

And now that he doesn’t have to go through the hassle of applying for a visa, Sivakumar is also keen to go to Beijing to visit his extended family.

Uzaidi Udanis, chairman of the Malaysia Inbound Tourism Alliance, said travel agents have seen “a lot of movement from Malaysia to China” since December.

Since Dec. 1, Malaysia has extended visa-free access to travelers from China with the policy to be in place until the end of 2024.

Uzaidi expects it will lead to an influx of Chinese tourists. Apart from Malaysia, Singapore on Jan. 25 signed a visa-exemption agreement with China. The agreement commenced Feb. 9 in time for the Chinese New Year holiday.

Thailand and China on Jan. 28 signed off on mutual visa exemptions starting March 1. Indonesia is planning to extend visa-free access to tourists from 20 countries, including China.

“The introduction of the visa-free policy, coupled with promotion on social media, holds significant importance as it is expected to attract a larger pool of potential Chinese tourists, igniting their interest and willingness to explore these four nations,” Puvaneswaran Kunasekaran, a senior social and development sciences lecturer at the Universiti Putra Malaysia, told China Daily.