Why countries like Malaysia and Thailand allow Indian travelers to travel without visas

Looking to travel for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays? Malaysia is the next holiday destination after Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced on Sunday that entry visa requirements for Indian nationals will be lifted from December 1. It would be perfect as a place.

On Sunday, Malaysian Prime Minister Ibrahim said: “From December 1st, we will give Indian and Chinese nationals an additional 30 days of visa exemption when they come to Malaysia.”

The aim is to promote tourism and, in turn, boost the economy. And the move comes after Mr Anwar last month announced plans to improve the visa system next year to facilitate the entry of tourists and investors “particularly from India and China”.

But why are countries like Malaysia offering visa-free travel to Indians? What are the benefits of such a move?

We will investigate the situation and provide answers.

Which countries allow Indians visa-free travel?

Recently, several countries announced visa waivers for Indians, opening the door for hassle-free travel. A few weeks ago, Thailand announced that Indian citizens will be able to enter the Asian country without a visa from November 10th. Valid until May 10, 2024, the country allows Indian travelers to stay in Thailand for 30 days for tourism purposes only.

Similarly, Sri Lanka also announced a visa-free entry initiative for visitors from India. This is part of a pilot project to rebuild the debt-ridden island nation’s tourism industry, which will run until March 31, 2024. Besides Indian tourists, tourists from six other countries including China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand can also participate. You can visit Sri Lanka for free.

Tourists visiting the Big Buddha in Phuket, Thailand. Prior to this, Thailand also announced visa-free travel for Indian nationals from November 10th.File image/Reuters

According to reports, Vietnam is also considering granting short-term visa exemptions to Indian nationals to boost tourism.According to Vietnam News Agency VnExpress, Vietnam’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung called for exemptions for key markets such as China and India to facilitate tourism recovery. This was announced on November 22 at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Pham Minh Trinh.

Malaysia also announced on Sunday visa waivers for Indians to boost tourism in the country.

In fact, a July report said Indians can travel to 57 destinations without a visa.

In addition to countries that offer visa exemptions, some countries have simplified the visa process. For example, Australia has made “significant efforts” to simplify, speed up and streamline the visa application process for Indian travelers. Russia has also started issuing electronic visas to Indian passport holders. According to reports, the measure is aimed at allowing visitors to obtain travel approval faster for various purposes, including tourism, business trips, and guest visits.

What is the reason behind such a move?

There are many reasons why countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are considering or allowing visa-free travel to Indian nationals.

First, let’s consider Malaysia. Visa-free entry makes travel easier, attracting more tourists to the country and boosting the economy.

Malaysia hopes to attract more Indian tourists to Malaysia by waiving visa requirements. China and India are Malaysia’s fourth and fifth largest source markets, respectively, according to government data.

According to government data, Malaysia recorded 9.16 million tourist arrivals from January to June this year, of which 498,540 were from China and 283,885 from India. This compares to 1.5 million arrivals from China and 354,486 arrivals from India during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

The Malaysian government hopes that the arrival of more Indians will lead to increased spending and, of course, a boost to the economy.

Malaysia recorded 9.16 million tourist arrivals from January to June this year, of which 498,540 were from China and 283,885 from India. File image/AFP

And this trend is not limited to Malaysia. Countries around the world recognize the value of Indian tourists. In 2022, more than 20 million Indians will travel abroad, with tourism being the third biggest reason. Around 8.5 million people traveled abroad in the first four months of 2023, already two-fifths of the total for 2022.

Additionally, a report titled ‘How to Travel in India’ published by Booking.com and McKinsey & Company reveals that the total spend by Indian travelers has soared to $410 billion, making India the fourth largest spender in the world. I predict it will be a large amount. This is a significant increase of 173% compared to 2019, when Indian travelers collectively spent her $150 billion, making India the 6th largest spender in the world.

The report further added that the number of Indian tourist trips is expected to surge from 2.3 billion in 2019 to a staggering 5 billion in 2030. Santosh Kumar, Country Manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia at Booking.com said: CNBCTV18 Indian travelers’ desire to explore presents a unique opportunity for the Indian travel industry to offer engaging, personalized and sustainable experiences.

More than 20 million Indians will travel abroad in 2022, with tourism being the third biggest reason. And in the first four months of 2023, about 8.5 million people traveled abroad. File image/AFP

Added Arshdeep Anand, Director of Holiday Mood Adventures free press journal “Indians are spenders and destinations are becoming aware of that.”

Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head of Holidays, MICE and Visas at Thomas Cook, said: economic times“Indians are traveling like never before,” the company said, adding that demand soared 200% year-on-year between January and June this year.

There is another reason why countries allow visa-free travel to Indians. Currently, Indians have to endure long waiting times to obtain Schengen and US visas. Recognizing this, countries are attracting potential tourists to their countries.

Also read: Why Indonesia’s Bali bans motorbike rentals for tourists

Why do Indians travel so much?

But what drives Indians to become such travelers? Many experts say that this trend is mainly caused by wanderlust.

The surge in Indian overseas tourism is driven by wanderlust and a strong economy. File image/AFP

India is the fifth largest economy in the world after the United States, China, Germany and Japan, and its strong economy also stimulates Indians’ desire to travel.

Omri Morgenstern, CEO of travel and booking website Agoda, suggests that this increase in travel can be partly attributed to the geographical distance between the country and India. . Additionally, low-cost airlines have enabled more Indians to book international travel.

However, a news report offered a different perspective on Indians’ travel aspirations. Booking.com’s Leisure Report found that social status, rather than other interests such as discovering new places, is the most important factor driving the majority of Indians to travel.

Based on opinions from agents

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