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Dip in tourists visiting Malaysia from Singapore because of congestion at Johor checkpoint: Bakhtiar

Dip in tourists visiting Malaysia from Singapore because of congestion at Johor checkpoint: Bakhtiar

Cars entering Malaysia at the Johor CIQ complex.

GEORGE TOWN, Penang: The number of arrivals from Singapore into Malaysia dipped by about 2 million in 2018, Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) said on Friday (Apr 5).

The congestion at the Johor Bahru checkpoint was cited as one of the reasons why fewer tourists went into Malaysia from Singapore.

About 10.2 million arrivals were recorded last year, compared to 12 million the year before, the deputy minister for tourism Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said.

READ: Complaints of Causeway, Second Link congestion as Singapore bans foreign vehicles with outstanding fines: Report

The tourism authority is working closely with the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) to resolve the issue at Johor Bahru's Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ).

"We have visited the CIQ together with KDN officers and we have proposed some solutions and short-term strategies to facilitate the crowd entering Malaysia," Mr Bakhtiar said.

He said the CIQ in Johor was designed more for cargo handling, but due to the conditions set by the Home Affairs Ministry, visa on arrival (VOA) entries can only be processed at this complex.

"We have proposed some measures for KDN on the VOA and immigration systems to smoothen the journey for tourists at the CIQ," he added.

Earlier this week, motorists complained of long queues on the Causeway and Tuas Second Link after Singapore started its ban on foreign vehicles with outstanding fines on Monday.

According to The Star Online's report on Tuesday, Malaysians travelling into Singapore for work were stuck in long queues on both the Causeway and Second Link near Gelang Patah.

TOURISM "KEY SECTOR" OF MALAYSIAN ECONOMY

Mr Bakhtiar said his ministry is collaborating with the Home Affairs Ministry to facilitate entry into the country for tourists from China and India via the Electronic Travel Registration and Information (eNTRI) service.

He said currently there is no visa exemption for tourists from the two countries but the fees to apply for the eNTRI would be exempted until Dec 31.

He added that the tourism ministry was targeting 28.1 million tourist arrivals and RM92.2 (US$23 billion) billion in tourist receipts this year.

Tourism is a key sector of the Malaysian economy, he said, accounting for around 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment for 3.4 million people.

"We hope to see positive developments in all outcomes (from the efforts to promote tourism), so that the industry will continue to thrive," he added.

Source: AGENCIES/aa(mi)

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