Hurray! Apart from celebrating the 66th Independence Day, 15th August 2013 also made a spot in the Indian history where the Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) scheme is implemented at four additional airports in Hyperabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Bangalore.
The VoA was first introduced on 1st Jan 2010 at four major international Indian airports (New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai) for citizens of merely five countries. Currently, the VoA is extended to citizens of eleven countries - Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. Soon, the facility will be extended to tourists from ten more countries including France, Germany and Russia.
The India tourist VoA has a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility. According to the Foreign Regional Registration Officers, the applicants’ passports should be valid for at least six months and has two spare pages. A return ticket is also compulsory to enjoy this facility. The VoA is obtainable at a reasonable fee of USD60 (equivalent Indian currency).
The manager of Hyperabad Airport (also known as Rajiv Gandhi International Airport), GMR Group is hopeful in bringing up the figures in the tourism statistics in years to come. This runs parallel to the India Ministry of Tourism’s aspiration to bring in 12 million international tourists by 2016. For that reason, the decision (which was made at the third inter-ministerial coordination committee meeting) to have VoA implementation is more than clear-cut.
If you are still in the dark whether you need a visa to travel to India, you can always refer to our India visa requirement page.
Hari Raya wishes to all our Muslim friends around the world! And, happy holiday to the rest of you, a belated one that is. Right before the celebration of this festive season, Singapore was expecting delays at both Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints. According to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the delays were expected to begin a day before the Raya – 8th of August until at least four days later. Fret not as this matter has been resolved so no worries travellers, as it will be all smooth out as usual.
Unfortunately, travellers might be facing the same congestion in Malaysia soon enough as there are a few national public holidays not too far away from the corner. The Malaysia’s National Day is on the 31st of August and the Malaysia Day falls on about a month later from now – 16th of September. Travellers who are going to Thailand will not be facing the same issue anytime soon as the next public holiday – Chulalongkorn Day (Thailand’s National Day) is at the end of October.
However, the congestion and delays might be worthwhile as travelling around these festive dates means only one thing – to be involved and expose to different cultures. So get your ticket and travel visa ready, and off you go, to experience something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, foreign tourists to Vietnam have shot up to almost 4.2 million in the first seven months of 2013. The figure was considered as a 5.9 percent rise compared to the previous year. In the report, it was seen that the visitors from Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United Kingdom have increased drastically. This is because the visa requirement to Vietnam has been eased and more frequent flights introduced by various airlines.
The spokesperson of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism stated that the growth of the international tourist arrivals was a positive sign in the middle of slow economic recuperation. But then, the Vietnam tourism industry got to pull their socks up so that the goal of reaching 7 million international tourists for the entire year can be hit. As mentioned above, the tourist number has arrived at the 4.2 million mark, which is 60% of the target. Therefore, it is not entirely mission impossible for them to achieve their goal!
Other than working on visa exemption policy as well as tax reduction for tourists, one of the most sure-fire ways for Vietnam to realize the above is to open a new gateway for tourists to get to their preferred spots. That is why a new airport in Vietnam is in the pipeline since its initial development in 2005. However, the plans only came after the huge tourism boost in 2012. The proposed new airport – Long Thanh International Airport - is located in the southern province of Dong Nai, 43 kilometres away from Tan Son Nhat Airport and 32 kilometres from Bien Hoa military airport.
Upon completion, the airport will be serving 80-100 million people and handling 5 million tons of cargo a year. The airport is believed to be on par with other huge airports in Southeast Asia. The first stage of the construction is expected to kick off in 2015, followed by the second and third stages. The scheduled operational time will be in year 2020, with a capacity of about one quarter of the above.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has a lot to offer. Whether it is World Heritage cultural sites in Halong Bay or growing city of Saigon, tourists are spoilt for choices. The new airport will positively bring a win-win situation to both Vietnam and the visitors.
Thailand and China are among the most popular travel destinations in Asia, but soon they'll be generating even more tourist traffic between them. The Thai World Journal reports that by September 2013, the two nations will practice a reciprocal visa-free policy, following negotiations between representatives of the Thai-Chinese Culture and Economy Association.
At present, Thailand welcomes around 2 million visitors from China each year, a number that's expected to double once the mutual visa-free policy is implemented. The representatives have updated Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, on the progress of the discussions, and she is said to highly welcome the move, stating that it will bring about "enormous opportunities."
To further promote and develop Thailand's cultural and economic cooperation with China, the Prime Minister has urged the sister cities to intensify activities in not only tourism, but also trading and investing. If you're planning to visit Thailand soon, do check your nationality's Thai visa requirements before making your travel plans.
With the firm base of the IT development in India, the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India (MEA) has been working hard for refashioning its digital identity to the world for two years. Starting from revamping the MEA website, it aims to catch the public attention over its services including passport and visa applications via the new media.
On 29 July 2013, Foreign Secretary of MEA, Ranjan Mathai, made an official announcement that the mobile app for the ministry services of Indian Government was launched. Named as "MEA India", surfers can download the app from "Google Play" and "Apple Store" at a free cost. Once clicked open the app, the whoosh of the rotatable palatte navigator has impressed most of the viewers. A variety of ministry services including passport services, visa/consular services, public diplomacy, media centre, follow PM/EAM services, e-citizen information, Indian missions aboard, haj services and Kallash Manasarovar Yatra services are all available at your fingertips.
Simply take the Indian visa application as an example. The latest information about various types of visas and visa-on-arrival arrangement for foreign nationals are available on-the-go via the mobile app. It truly gives the handy assistance for foreigners. However, it is widely commented by the netizens that the app is informative yet highly interactive. No online forms for visa application have been available through the app. The track record for such an application cannot be obtained from the platform either.
To fit the uses of all global travellers and further fix the less user-friendly contents of the app, a deep and thorough user's research shall be carried out as soon as possible. A product takes ergonomics as the key of design; it is highly possible for the product itself get popular in the market. This law will also apply to the setting of online visa application. If the app is designed to accommodate the needs or benefits of all the visa bearers, the app will be widely acclaimed as the first of its kind around the world.
Time does really fly. It seems like only yesterday that the Phu Bai International Airport in Hue, Vietnam was closed for upgrade when it actually happened in March this year. Aware of the importance of the role the airport plays for Central Vietnam, transport authorities have approved for earlier opening on the coming 20 September. The duration of the closure is shortened from the planned eight months to merely six months.
The airport, which is located approximately 15km away from the city centre, had shut down mainly for runway upgrades and repairs that cost roughly between 500 and 600 billion Vietnamese dong. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, the early completion is a result of the contractors' increased working shifts. The runway asphalting is expected to finish by August while the lights and control equipment installation will be in early September. The administration's inspection is planned on 16 September, followed by the official reopening day on 20 September.
With a larger runway that measures 2, 800 metres in length and 45 metres in width, the airport will be able to handle bigger planes. That's not all! The airport can accommodate up to 20 planes during peak hours and 5 million passengers a year seven years from now. By 2030, it was forecasted that the airport shall increase its capacity to 26 planes and 9 million passengers.
The airport upgrade at Phu Bai International Airport (also known as Hue Airport) acts as a part of the government's plan to develop Hue to be a vital tourism destination in Vietnam. It is because Hue is rich of well-preserved forts, tombs and pagodas recoganized by UNESCO. The general manager of La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue, Phan Trong Minh stated, "Restoring direct access to Hue is a crucial step in enticing visitors and boosting the city's profile. Now that logistical issues are out of the way, Hue can reclaim its place as one of Vietnam's most alluring – and accessible – destinations."
Travelling is fun, yet the application of visas can be tedious at times. But now, with the introduction of 72 – hour visa free stay, what do you say? The third Chinese city to follow Beijing and Shanghai in this short visa scheme is Guangzhou. This visa – free policy benefits heaps of travellers (from 45 countries)! Countries that are eligible are Australia, South Korea, Canada and France, just to name a few. The main objective in introducing this policy is to boost tourism of Guangzhou as well as the local economy. The deputy governor of Guangdong, Ms. Zhao Yufang, stated that:"The visa-free policy will cement Guangzhou's status as a key metropolis of China, an international aviation hub and a world-renowned tourist destination,"
The application of visa – free service is as easy as ABC. The things transit travellers need to have in hand is of course the visa to the third country (not to origin country), along with a connecting air ticket of leaving Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Firstly, apply to the airline before boarding from your home country. The airline will be in charge in sending related data to the exit and entry department in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport while you're on the plane, and finally, apply directly at the exit and entry department upon arrival.
However, there are a few rules and regulations that worth mentioning. Do note that the 72 hours will be calculated starting from the very second you obtain your visa free permit. Also, you are allowed to conduct your little exploration in Guangzhou ONLY. Once you stepped foot out of the province, you are an illegal immigrant. To be eligible in the short visa scheme, you have to reach the airport by plane and plane only. It does not apply to travellers who are using train, ferry or bus. For Malaysian travellers who find 72 hours is too short of a time for a visit, and would also love to visit different provinces in China instead of just Guangzhou, it is advisable to apply for a Chinese Visa beforehand.
Great news for Chinese tourists! South Korea is working on issuing multiple-entry visa, particularly aimed to encourage more people to visit. The number of tourists from China to South Korea has been gradually increasing over the years. Hence, a multiple-entry visa can serve as a booster to attract even more Chinese tourists.
According to statistics, the new policy will benefit up to 30 million people in China. This approach is deemed to be essential for South Korea to attract more Chinese tourists – the world’s biggest travel market. In South Korea, the only visa-free destination is Jeju Island, which is more popular among local tourists. Let’s take other parts of Southeast Asia for comparison; many resorts are well received by tourists due to simple visa procedures. Perhaps South Korea has come to senses that the visa procedure has a close connection to its tourism report card.
At the moment being, Chinese nationals are granted a tourist visa with a 90-day validity period to South Korea and the allowable stay is from 15 to 90 days. With a multi-entry visa, travelling has become more flexible as peak seasons, high air fares and unreasonable hotel prices can be avoided. To compare the difference between the eased and current visa requirement to the beautiful country of South Korea, Chinese tourists may check out our page.
What’s more? To tempt more tourists to the republic, particularly the Chinese, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) shall establish a tourist police force to reduce and banish crimes against foreign tourists like overcharging, illegal taxi service and unauthorized tour guides. Also, tourists will be getting a Value-Added Tax (VAT) refund of 10% on the hotel fees when they depart from Korea at any airport or seaport from next year onwards.
In order to entice more international tourists, the government of India has decided to introduce group visas or officially known as collective landing permits (CLP). The CLP is for foreign tourists traveling in groups of at least four. These travelling groups will be granted Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) and the travel agencies (recognized by the Union Ministry of Tourism) are responsible for those who stray from the group during the tour.
By the rule of a thumb, both the travel agents and tourists will have to give an undertaking to follow the itinerary. Thus, the agencies will be assured that no one is to deviate. According to an agency here, there were cases where tourists (who were supposed to be in groups) disappeared. This would have put the agency into shame as it will lead to police cases. Besides, the agency is also forced to pay the fine for the breaching of the regulation.
In fact, the CLP is not a novelty in India but is more like an enhanced version i.e. the stay has been doubled up from the previous 30-day as well as multiple entry conveniences, which allows tourists to visit bordering countries. The system was initially known as a company landing permit, and then changed to group landing permit and now collective landing permit. Whether the tourist group arrives at India by air or sea, they are eligible for the CLP as long as the group is supported by travel agencies. However, an itinerary has to be presented together with passport details of the members to the immigration officers at arrival gates.
To enjoy the CLP facility, the travel agencies have to fill up an online application form. The list of members, along with the printed visa application and their itinerary, have to be submitted to the Foreigners’ Registration Office in the concerned states at least 72 hours in advance. These concerned states include Goa.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president, Francisco Braganca thinks that the CLP would bring a positive note to its tourism. Just last April, Goa became the latest addition to provide VoA facilities. The VoA facilities were at first offered at only four international airports – namely Trivandrum, Bangalore, Hyperabad and Kochi airports.
At present, a single entry Tourist VOA is valid for 30 days at a fee of USD60. If you are not legible for the VOA, you will have to apply for an Indian Visa. To help you with the visa application process, you can always check our India visa requirement page.
An obvious spike is seen on the number of Iranian asylum seekers arriving in Australia. Most of them reach Australia by boat after they transit in Indonesia. Thus, Indonesia is now going to tighten the visa restrictions against Iran, playing a role in conjunction with Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd’s new asylum seeker policy.
According to the Indonesian correspondent, Helen Brown, an official brought out that they are aware of the huge number of Iranians make use of Indonesia’s Visa On Arrival system and it has since been a concern. One of the first stops for Iranian asylum seekers before setting foot in Australia is the Jakarta International Airport. From there, they then obtain a VOA and continue their journey to Australia.
But now, things are going to change as a letter to prevent Iranians from obtaining a VOA was signed by the Indonesian justice minister, Amir Syamsuddin. Three out of every 20 asylum-seekers who arrived to Australia were from Iran in year 2012. That figure has risen significantly to almost seven in 20 in this year. The rising number lead to Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carrrecently believing that the majority of Iranian asylum seekers were actually seeking economic opportunity instead of fleeing persecution.
Do note that the VOA restrictions is going to be applied against Iranians and Iranians only but this is not set in stone yet as the official date of the implementation has yet to be confirmed. There will be no change to other eligible nationals so they can still apply for an Indonesian VOA at an affordable rate of 25USD with a validity of 30 days. When applying for one, please ensure that applicant's passport must have a validity of at least 6 months along with a return/onward ticket to ensure.