Saturday, March 2, 2024

    Winter Wanderlust: Indians Flock to Visa-Free Destinations, Boosting Travel Numbers

    Last-Minute Travel Trends Propel Visits to Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka by 20-30%


    Indians, known for their penchant for spontaneous travel decisions, are set to amplify the number of visitors to visa-free destinations this winter, including popular hotspots like Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. This trend, experts suggest, could contribute to an additional 20-30% surge in winter travel.

    The winter season poses a substantial opportunity for travel companies, with leading players such as Thomas Cook and EaseMyTrip poised to capitalize on the potential surge in demand. However, the Indian travel market has grappled with challenges arising from low entry barriers and visa complexities, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Thomas Cook India and its subsidiary SOTC have reported a remarkable increase of at least 20% in bookings for the period spanning October to December 2023 compared to the same timeframe in the previous year. Customers are exhibiting a preference for destinations that either do not necessitate a visa, offer straightforward visa terms, or provide visas on arrival.

    Thailand, a perennial favorite among Indian tourists, is already witnessing a 30% growth in bookings for the upcoming holiday season between November 2022 and January 2023. This uptick follows the waiver of visa requirements for Indian travelers.

    Sri Lanka has joined the fray by introducing visa-free entry for visitors from India and six other countries until 31 March, while Malaysia has announced visa-free entry for citizens of India and China for stays up to 30 days starting from 1 December. These initiatives mirror similar moves by Thailand and Sri Lanka, positioning these destinations as attractive options for Indian travelers.

    Reports indicate that a substantial 70% of Indians prefer traveling to nearby destinations. Prior to the pandemic, India’s outbound tourism was a rapid riser in Asia. Recovering 61% of its pre-pandemic market, with 13 million outbound tourists in 2022, the country aims for a potential growth to 80 million by 2040.

    Thailand stands out as a leading magnet for Indian tourists, and other countries like the Maldives, Myanmar, and Indonesia are also reaping the benefits of increased Indian tourism, facilitated by on-arrival visas. The surge in outbound travel to these destinations ranges from 20-30%, with Malaysia potentially following suit, although it is too early to predict a similar surge.

    Neha Raj
    Neha uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though her specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.



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