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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Common ASEAN visa system

With the Indian government recently announcing its plans of establishing an online application system for visas along with extending visa on arrival (VOA) to 40 countries, pensioners (above 60 years of age) and groups attending conferences, a travel search site conducted a survey amongst 1000 Indian travellers to understand how visas affected their travel decisions. The survey undertaken by Skyscanner reveals that an overwhelming 89 per cent of Indian travellers are in favour of a common visa to visit more than one country in the ASEAN region similar to the Schengen visa that applies to the 26 countries of the European Union.

The findings of the survey illustrated the extent to which visa requirements influence the holiday choices of Indian travellers, with three quarters admitting that their choice of destination was 'often dictated by visa requirements.' Interestingly, however, two out of five travellers in the older age groups (55 plus category) said they considered holiday destinations irrespective of the visa issues. If visas were not an issue, the most popular holiday destination that Indians were predisposed to travelling to was the US with 240 travellers voting in favour of it, followed by the UK, Singapore and Switzerland which received 120, 70 and 60 votes respectively.

When asked if they had ever had their visas rejected, 20 per cent of the travellers surveyed agreed to having faced this disappointment. The survey results also suggest that many travellers find visa application processes complex with 16 per cent of the respondents in the 18-24 age group admitting to making an error in the application process.

Kavitha Gnanamurthy, marketing manager, Skyscanner India, said, "In light of recent developments of the Indian government introducing a liberalising visa regime, our survey provides pertinent and useful insights into Indian travellers preference governing visas. From wanting a single visa system for ASEAN countries to choosing their holiday destinations based on ease of getting a visa, governments and tourism bodies in the ASEAN countries should take note of travellers sentiments to ensure increased visitor arrival traffic into their countries."

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