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Boost in Tourism: Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka Granting Visa-free Entry for Indians

On November 26, 2023, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced visa-free entry for Indian tourists into Malaysia. This exemption would only be allowed for those who are on a 30-day tour in the country and will be applicable from December 1 onwards. However, the entry will be subject to security screenings for any past criminal record. Apart from India, Malaysia also extended similar facilities to the citizens of Arab countries, Turkey, Jordan, and China. The aim is to promote tourism and give an upward boost to the economy. Last year, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim hinted at improving visa facilities to encourage the entry of tourists and investors into the country, especially from China and India.

Indian Tourism in Malaysia:

India is Malaysia’s fifth-largest source market for tourism. Malaysia witnessed around 9.16 million tourist arrivals in 2023 between January and June. Out of this, there were around 2,83,885 Indian tourists. According to Mr. Ibrahim, tourism within the ASEAN region was mainly from Singapore and Indonesia. He hopes that Indian tourists will take advantage of this facility and view it as an opportunity to visit the country in a hassle-free manner.

Other Countries with Similar Facilities:

Recently, Thailand announced a similar scrapping of entry visas for Indian tourists, which is already effective as of November 10. This rule will remain valid until May 10, 2024. The country is currently allowing Indian nationals to enter and remain in Thailand for 30 days. However, this rule is strictly for tourists alone. According to Thai PBN World, Thailand’s public service broadcaster, approximately 1.26 million Indians have already visited Thailand in the first nine months of 2023. This number is expected to rise to approximately 1.55 million by the end of 2023. It was also reported that an average tourist spends about 41,000 baht (97,000 INR) per person during a week’s stay in the country. Thailand also extended similar facilities to tourists from China, Taiwan, and Kazakhstan.

Earlier in October, Sri Lanka, too, announced visa-free entry for Indian tourists. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry had mentioned that the facility would be available for tourists from seven countries: India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. This facility was being implemented as part of a pilot project that is ongoing and will culminate on March 31, 2024. The move was made in order to boost the country’s economy and ease travel rules for tourists from neighboring countries.

Apart from these two countries, Vietnam is also considering implementing similar facilities for Indian tourists. Russia and Australia have already begun the process of easing the visa-granting process for Indian tourists.

Visa fee waivers are a significant step in promoting people-to-people interactions and cross-cultural engagements. While giving the host countries a much-needed economic boost, such a move would surely increase the cultural and political ties among nations in the near future.