PUTRAJAYA: The government is prepared to issue immediate approval for chartered flights into the country as a means to attract and encourage tourist arrivals said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Speaking at the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry’s (MOTAC) Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house celebrations here today, Anwar said the decision was in line with the government’s efforts to ease the process for MOTAC to attract tourists to the country.

“Issues involving the technical aspects had been sort by the (Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing). Issues of visa, I have discussed with the Home Minister (Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail).

“At at the initial stage, what we can expedite is approval for ‘chartered flights’,“ he said.

In February, Tiong through a Facebook posting had suggested that local airline companies carry out research on the possibility to develop special chartered flights to Malaysia as an initiative to attract foreign tourists to the country.

Describing the Tourism industry as a main revenue generating prospect to the country, Anwar said the government would consider suggestions from MOTAC.

“Whatever action that is suitable, must be given due consideration...to encourage and attract tourist arrivals to Malaysia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tiong said for the first quarter of the year, 4.38 million foreign tourists had entered the country and from the total, 178,150 were tourists from China. - Bernama