After Sri Lanka and Thailand, Malaysia offers visa-free entry for Indian tourists

The visa exemption will be subject to top security screening, said Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim. Photo: Shutterstock

Kuala Lumpur: From December 1 to December 30, Indian tourists can enjoy visa-free entry to Malaysia. It comes close on its heels after similar waivers were announced by Thailand and Sri Lanka recently. Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the waiver was an additional facility to the existing visa exemptions currently enjoyed by Gulf nations and other West Asian countries, including Turkey and Jordan. However, Ibrahim, who is also the Finance Minister of the country, said the visa exemption was subject to top security screening, the official Bernama news agency reported.

"Initial screenings will be conducted for all tourists and visitors to Malaysia. Security is a different matter. If there are criminal records or the risk of terrorism, they will not be allowed to enter," the prime minister said. "That comes under the authority of the security forces and immigration," the premier said.

The 30-day visa-free entry is also currently enjoyed by eight ASEAN countries for the purpose of social visits, tourism, and business. Malaysia is currently targeting 16.1 million international tourist arrivals with RM 49.3 billion in tourism receipts. India remains to be among the top countries to contribute tourist arrivals to Malaysia. In 2022, Malaysia welcomed a total of 324,548 Indian tourists, while in the first quarter of 2023, Malaysia received as many as 164,566 Indian tourists compared to 13,370 in the same period last year, according to data from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, also known as Tourism Malaysia. Currently, there are 158 flights with 30,032 seats offered weekly between India and Malaysia through Malaysia Airlines, Batik Air, AirAsia, and IndiGo, said the agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia.

Sri Lanka has introduced a visa-free entry initiative for visitors from India and six other countries, encompassing China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. This initiative will remain effective until March 31, 2024, and aims to boost tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka, with the tourism ministry setting a target of attracting five million tourists in the coming years. Thailand has also lifted visa requirements for visitors from India and Taiwan. Indians can travel to Thailand without a visa and stay for up to 30 days, the government announced recently. This visa-free access for Indian passport holders is applicable from November 10, 2023, to May 10, 202

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