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Malaysia to allow visa-free entry for Taiwanese

Taiwanese nationals will soon be allowed to visit Malaysia without a visa, a minister said Thursday, in a bid to increase the number of tourists and boost foreign exchange earnings.

"We will provide visa-free travel for Taiwanese tourists very soon. It will encourage more tourists (to come to Malaysia)," Ng Yen Yen, tourism minister told reporters.

Last year, some 200,000 Taiwanese visited Malaysia.

Ng said Malaysia hopes to attract 25 million visitors and earn 61 billion ringgit (20 billion dollars) in revenue from tourism this year. Tourism is Malaysia's second highest foreign exchange earner.

Malaysia has not announced its tourism figures for 2010, but it had targeted 24 million tourist arrivals generating 55 billion ringgit. In 2009 23.65 million tourists visited the country.

Ng said Malaysia will target high-end visitors from Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand who will spend longer and more money in the country.

"Our aim is to woo high end and long haul tourists to Malaysia," she said.

Ng said she hoped the political unrest in Egypt will not "spill over" to neighbouring countries as it may dent the number of arrivals from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran.