Tour and travel companies have responded with a big arigato gozaimasu (thank you) to Japan’s decision to abolish visas for Malaysian tourists, with some expecting their bookings to double.

Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) deputy president John Tan Chai Keong said its 2,800 tour agents expected a big boost in Malaysian travellers to Japan.

“As the travel business community, we are elated with the decision made by the Japanese government as it will make it much easier for Malaysians to fly to Japan,” he said yesterday.

Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) president Paul Paw also gave the decision the thumbs-up, saying the “bureaucratic process” in obtaining Japanese visas had put off some travellers.

“We expect a hike in Malaysian tourists to Japan. Last year, we handled about 140,000 Malaysian travellers and expect the numbers to double during the cherry blossom season and peak snow season,” he said.

Malaysia Harmony Tours & Travel CEO Cooper Huang Lye said more of the young would want to visit Japan with the hassle of applying for visas to be removed.

“Previously, travellers had to provide a lot of documents for us to apply visas for them.”

The Japanese Embassy in Malaysia, in a web posting yesterday, confirmed that Japan had made a decision on June 11 to abolish visas for short-term Malaysian visitors, adding that the date for implementation would be announced soon.

“The Ministerial Council on the Promotion of Japan as a tourism-oriented country has decided to ease conditions for the granting of visas to Japan. It is also to mark the 40th anniversary of Asean-Japan friendship and cooperation in 2013,” the posting said.

Engineer Mohd Fadhli Afiq Noranizar, 23, said the move was good as travellers would save on visa fees and also need not pay service fees to travel agents.

(c)2013 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Photo Credit: Tourists walk through the Asakusa budhist temple in Japan. Retinafunk / Flickr