MALAYSIA saw a 50% increase in tourists from China during Chinese New Year and tour operators estimated that they have spent between RM1bil and RM1.5bil in the country, reported Sin Chew Daily.

According to Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president Paul Paw, more than 100,000 Chinese tourists, comprising some 5,000 tour groups, have visited Malaysia since Feb 5.

Paw said this represented a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2023, making Malaysia one of the top five destinations for Chinese tourists this year. “Tourists from China arrived in droves. Restaurants, shopping malls and food courts across the country were filled with people. It made us excited,” he said.

Paw added that Chinese tourists typically prefer touring either the northern region (Penang and Perak), central region (Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, and Melaka), or the southern region (Johor and Singapore), based on the proximity of tourist attractions.

Sabah, in particular, emerged as a popular diving destination among Chinese tourists.

The recent waiver of travel visas for Chinese tourists since December 2023 has been cited by many operators as a significant factor driving the surge in tourist numbers.

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