panorama destination

panorama destination

Chinese Visitors Spend RM1.5 Billion in Malaysia Over CNY
04 March 2024 | Written by Chris Alexander

Malaysia’s new relaxation to visa regulations for Chinese nationals came just in time for the Chinese New Year, helping spur a massive influx of arrivals over the holiday period. Last month the country saw a 50% increase in Chinese holidaymakers, who reportedly spent close to RM1.5 billion (US$ 315 million) on their travels.  

Malaysia has been identified as one of the top five most attractive destinations to Chinese tourists in 2024. According to Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president, Paul Paw, around 5,000 tour groups comprising over 100,000 Chinese travellers made the trip between 5-20 February, making last month a bumper time for tourism revenue.  

“Tourists from China arrived in droves,” said Paw, who is delighted to see the boon this influx brings to tourism infrastructure. “Restaurants, shopping malls and food courts across the country were filled with people. It made us excited,” he added. 

Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia during this period typically opted for tour packages exploring the country’s northern region, in locations like Penang and Perak; central region, which includes Kuala Lumpur, Pahang and Melaka; and the southern region, which is home to hotspots like Johor and neighbouring Singapore. Sabah, on the northern coast of Borneo also proved to be an especially popular destination for dive tourism among Chinese tourists. 

The recent spike in arrivals has been attributed to the Malaysian government’s decision to waive visa requirements for travellers with Chinese passports. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim confirmed the new policy in November, which allows Chinese and Indian nationals to enjoy a 30-day, visa-free stay. This has been further supported by new links with international airlines, such as Emirates and Qatar Airways, which have helped to meet the growing demand for travel to Malaysia among various international source markets. 

Officials in Malaysia recently set an ambitious target of 27.3 million foreign arrivals in 2024, which would officially signify the country’s return to (and development beyond) pre-pandemic levels of tourism activity. With record-breaking numbers of Chinese travellers already making the trip, this year is on course to be a successful one for Malaysian inbound tourism.