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Travel visa free, discover new places

Posted on May 18, 2015
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Summer has arrived, and so has vacation time. Travelling to a new country can be a fascinating fun-filled adventure. Often though, what deters travellers is the long, arduous visa process that is part and parcel of going abroad. But who says you must get a visa? There are plenty of countries that offer visa-free stays and visas on arrival, and travel agents say these are slowly gaining in popularity as holiday destinations, especially with impulse travellers.

“We have seen a 35 per cent increase over the last year in the number of travellers opting for visa-free destinations,” said Venkatraman Suresh, senior manager at Akshaya India Tours and Travels in Chennai.

“Visa on arrival to countries like Maldives, Mauritius, Laos, Cambodia, Jordan, Kenya and the Philippines has led to a significant surge in tourism – for short stays, weekend getaways as well as group celebrations. Short-haul locations such as Macau and Hong Kong especially, are giving strong competition to domestic tourism,” said Abraham Alapatt, chief innovation officer, Thomas Cook.

He explained that a large number of tourists were now exploring previously unknown countries thanks to their visa-free or visa on entry policies. “Reunion Island, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Jamaica, Bolivia, Cape Verde and other exotic destinations are becoming very popular,” he said.

Cambodia too is a great favourite with those in Chennai, said Roymon Thomas, CEO, Royal Leisure Tours and not only because the Indian rupee goes a long way there.

If more countries in South America gave visas on arrival, there would be a large number of tourists heading there, said Tushar Jain, managing partner, Rountrip.in. He added that countries like Australia and New Zealand, popular with Chennaiites, had made visa policies friendlier.

France’s announcement of a French visa in less than 48 hours has made France a hot destination with a growth of 23 per cent and USA granting 10-year multiple entry visas has seen a 100 per cent surge, said Mr. Alapatt.

According to the World Tourism Organisation’s Visa Openness Report 2014, “While at the beginning of 2008, destinations requested an average of 77 per cent of the world’s population to apply for a traditional visa prior to departure, this percentage decreased to 62 per cent in 2014.” Over half (56 per cent) of all improvements made between 2010 and 2014 were from ‘visa required’ to ‘visa on arrival’, the report said.

Emerging economies continue to be, in 2014, more open in terms of travel requirements than advanced ones. Southeast Asian, East African, Caribbean and islands in the Pacific Ocean are amongst the most open, the report said.

 http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/travel-visa-free-discover-new-places/article7201450.ece
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