Visa waivers boost Indian demand for South-east Asia

I‌ndian outbound demand for destinations like Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka have shot up after visa waivers were offered.

According to Agoda’s insights, the two South-east Asian destinations are reaping the most rewards. Thailand has grown in popularity since visa relaxation came into effect, with a 44 per cent increase in searches from India. Searches from India to Malaysia spiked even more, with a 49 per cent rise in January compared to October last year.

More Indian outbound travellers are interested to visit Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, pictured

Krishna Rathi, country director India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives at Agoda, said: “With Malaysia and Thailand leading the way in terms of visa waivers, it’s clear that South-east Asia’s allure is growing stronger. The fact that many of these destinations can now be visited without having to worry about the paperwork will likely encourage even more Indian travellers to go abroad and explore.”

The visa-free regime also holds in good stead considering the upcoming Indian summer holidays. In order to make the most of the opportunity, markets like Malaysia are offering visa-free entry for Indian travellers till December 2024.

Naveen Nahar, partner, Travelz Factorry, noted: “The visa relaxation initiative not only provides these tourism boards with a distinct edge over competitors but also serves as a significant incentive for first-time Indian travellers. We are recording a noteworthy 22 per cent surge in travel inquiries for destinations like Thailand and Sri Lanka. As the holiday season approaches, we are expecting a further uptick in inquiries for the destinations providing visa fee waiver for Indian tourists.”

According to GoTMS Holidays’ founder Saad Javed, while seasoned and business travellers may not find the visa waiver a substantial motivator, it proves to be a compelling encouragement for first-time or less-experienced outbound travellers.

“As a company specialising in upscale and luxury segments, with a clientele often consisting of seasoned travellers heading to Europe and the US, the impact of visa fees on their travel decisions is relatively minimal. Nonetheless, an interesting trend has emerged with a marginal increase of five to seven per cent in queries for Thailand. In contrast, there is no noteworthy shift for the other countries offering visa relaxation,” added Javed.

Editor’s note: GoTMS Holidays’ founder was incorrectly named as Saad Naved – the correct name is Saad Javed. The change has been made in the article.

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