KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysians travelling to Ukraine can soon obtain visa on arrival after the country' cabinet adopted a new regulation on the matter on March 1, Ukrainian Ambassador to Malaysia, Olexander Nechytaylo said.
"On that day, the cabinet approved this new regulation to remove bureaucracy for Malaysians visiting the country, which will be implemented on April 1," he told Bernama in a recent interview in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Ukraine.
He said this new development could boost tourism and create lasting people-to-people relations, which are some of the areas the Ukrainian embassy here are focusing on to further strengthen ties.
The ambassador said that some 11,000 Ukrainian tourists came to Malaysia in 2015, but the number of Malaysian tourist arrivals to Ukraine was slightly lower than that.
Currently, Ukrainians can visit Malaysia without visa for up to 30 days but Malaysians visiting the eastern Europe country required a visa.
The envoy said that the embassy also planned to organise a 'travel talk' event later this year, which will bring together travel agents from both countries, as well as international airlines.
"I would like for Ukraine to be part of the package that has been offered to the Malaysian market, maybe together with a tour to Turkey and Poland," he said.
Nechytaylo added that Ukraine has a lot to offer, such as several UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as ' extreme tour' to the Chernobyl power plant, which was shutdown after a catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986.
Aware of Malaysians' love for food, he said that it was now easier to find halal food in Ukraine after the crisis at the border saw Crimean Muslim population moving to the mainland to avoid persecution in the area, hence spur the halal industry in the country.
Besides tourism, Nechytaylo added that Ukraine's National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy had shown keen interest to collaborate with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for joint-diploma, joint-degree and postgraduate programmes.
"Discussions are still ongoing. On the government side, we are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Higher Education Ministry for future cooperations in the education sector," he said.
Reviewing Ukraine-Malaysia's relations for the past 25 years, Nechytaylo said the two countries had been on a tremendous journey together which was tested through time and tragedy.
"We share many common values and have managed to work greatly when both are members of the United Nations Security Council," he said adding that the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have brought the two countries closer.
"It is during these challenging times that we got to know who our real friends are," he said.