All Thai tourism vehicles entering Malaysia via the Malaysia-Thai border are now required to get a permit from Tourism Malaysia.
The new condition is expected to be fully enforced after the Aidilfitri celebration, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
She said only tourist vehicles registered with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) can apply for the Tourism Malaysia permit in order to to ferry tourists into Malaysia.
“They must be registered with TAT before they can apply for the permit from us to make sure they are protected and there is transparency,” she told Malaysian reporters here, Saturday.
This new ruling came into place following dissatisfaction from Thai vehicle operators in May who complained that they were frequently fined by Road Transport Department (RTD) when ferrying tourists into Malaysia.
Dr Ng, who is on a working visit here, said some of the tour operators, especially those in southern Thailand were unclear about the new condition and that she had used the opportunity (of the visit) to meet and explain to them about the matter.
She said the new condition was not meant to create inconvenience to Thai tourists, but rather to ensure that they were protected and to avoid abuse from irresponsible quarters.
She added that Tourism Malaysia had been in constant talks with industry players in Thailand and related enforcement agencies in Malaysia since May to iron out any irregularities.
“I want to reaffirm our commitment to the tour operators here that we will continue to support tourism industry operators,” she said.
She explained that TAT registered tourist vehicles could apply for the permit at the Tourism Malaysia’s office in Alor Setar and the cost per entry was RM50.
The implementation of the new condition was also to standardize the regulation for foreign vehicles entering Malaysia from its border with Singapore in the south, sahe said.
She said from January to June this year, a total of 911,000 Thai tourists entered the country via the Thai-Malaysia border.
On another development, Dr Ng said the ministry was also moving into promoting Malaysia as a preferred shopping destination to the Thais.
She said among the highlightas were the three major shopping carnivals held annually and merchandise sold in Malaysia were VAT (value added tax) free.