How do you like the sound of Agreement on Facilitation of Travel? Bet you do, hey! Well, this is exactly what travellers will be getting. A bilateral meeting was held recently between the Foreign Minister of Russia (His Excellency Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov) and the Foreign Minister of Malaysia (Yang Berhormat Dato' Sri Anifah Aman).
During the meeting, both Ministers were happy with the strong ties between Malaysia and Russia and were on the same page in hope to enhance the growing bilateral relations as well as the cooperation of both countries in all aspects. Hence, both had a handshake on the Agreement on Facilitation of Travel as well as the soon – to – establish ESTC agreement (a joint Malaysia-Russia commission for economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation).
Russia has been putting efforts in terms of visa to boost its tourism. In fact, it has been active in seeking visa waiver opportunities and the latest agreement on this subject was with Latin American countries. Visa exemption is applied to a number of countries, Israel, Hong Kong, Thailand, Colombia, and Argentina, just to name a few. Thus, remember to check if you're entitled with the visa free travel scheme before any trips. The best way to apply for a tourist visa is to lodge it online. And for our fellow Malaysian friends, the application process is simple as we provide an exclusive service for you. Worry not as there will be no long queues and crazy waiting hours!
Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov
As an archipelagic country with over 7000 islands, the Philippines always exhibits her carnival of colors to the world. From the hustle-and-bustle of city life to the serenity at countryside, from rice terraces to turquoise seas, from palatable bites to fusion cuisines, there must be options fitting any itineraries planned by travellers. To let visitors enjoy the never-ending summer over the land, the Philippines Government extended the visa-free entry up to 30 days for the nationals of 151 countries with effect from 1 August 2013.
With the 30-day tourist visa, it’s more fun in the Philippines for travellers! To beat the summer heat, sun-worshippers all over the world are able to stay longer over the pearlescent sandy beaches of Boracay to soak up the fun with water sports. To those shopaholics, a rather relaxing schedule for the visits from the medium-scale Greenhills Shopping Centre to large-scale SM Mall of Asia becomes available. To those dreamt of a pampering trip, relaxing at the theatre or taking a spa treatment in a six-star hotel in Resorts World located in Pasay City will also be the best choice.
The decision for the visa extension made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines was undoubtedly to further boost the inbound tourism and to create the opportunities for attracting the foreign investment. It was the subsequent measure after the widely publicized and successful tourism marketing campaign held in 2012, which recorded at a total of 4.27 million tourist arrivals. Compared to that recorded in 2002, it grew 2.34 million more in ten years. It is predicted that the development of infrastructure over the urban regions will take a speedy schedule in order to further facilitate the booming tourism industry.
With a review for the source of inflow tourists in the past years, most of them were mainly from European countries and some from English-speaking countries in North America. However, the Chinese people now with the greatest purchasing power among travellers frequently go on vacation overseas. The competency level in Mandarin of the front officers in various service industries of the Philippines shall be therefore strengthened in order to get the best service ready to welcome more travellers from China.
Photo Credit: John Paul Solis
Since 1 July 2013, the Embassy of Japan has reactivated the 90-day visa exemption for the holders of Malaysian biometric passports compliant with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). For the holders of generic Malaysian passports, the application for the Japan visa is still required. The Embassy of Japan emphasized in the statement of announcement that the reactivation of the scheme will facilitate the inbound traffic of visitors to Japan. In the long run, the frequent business and cultural interactions between two nations will be expected.
The visa exemption arrangement between Japan and Malaysia was existed before 1993. In 1993, the economic downturn in Japan made the scheme call off. The current implementation of the visa-free scheme from the Japanese Government was definitely a key note for the celebration of 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan cooperation. However, the years of efforts over the technological advancement of the biometric data applications by the Malaysian Government should also be credited for this success.
Malaysia, as one of the developing countries over the globe, was the first nation initiated the issuance of the biometric-chip passports in 1998. Once the holder presented the Malaysian passport embedded with the data chip at any checkpoints of Malaysian customs and excises, the fingerprint and facial recognition scanner could retrieve the digital photograph of his or her face and two thumbprints. As the listed physical characteristics of a person take its uniqueness and permanence, the high accuracy for identifying the person’s profile at a relatively high speed was perceived. Therefore, the effective streamlining for the visitors at the checkpoints could be achieved.
This biometric measure has been also widely adopted in most international airports around the world like Kuala Lumpur International Airport to strengthen the national security after the 911 incidents. On 2 February 2010, the Malaysian Government started issuing ICAO compliant microchip passports with the validity of two years or five years for the choice of its citizens. It is estimated that more visa-free privileges will be granted for the holders of this Smart e-Passport from other countries in the near future.
Photo Credit: CLF
According to industry experts, in an effort to lure in more foreign tourists, Taiwan and China are next in line after Japan to loosen their previously strict visa rules. Visa facilitation has apparently become the latest marketing tool for the tourism industry. The two respective countries have now felt pressure by Japan’s recently waived visa.
With tourists seeking for better comfort and ample convenience during their journey and stay, visa facilitation certainly plays a vital role in fulfilling these needs. On July 1, 2013, multiple-entry visas have been offered to Filipino and Vietnamese tourists, while Malaysia and Thai tourists have been given a waiver in their visa requirements by Japan. Malaysians staying for three months or less and Thais staying no more than 15 days are eligible for the visa waiver.
To date, citizens from countries Taiwan has not signed a visa waiver agreement with will be issued visitor visas allowing stays of 14, 30, 60 or 90 days within a validity period of 3 to 12 months. The general requirements for visa application are a passport valid for at least 6 months, a completed visa form, 2 passport photos, a return/onward ticket, proof of sufficient funds and payment for visa fees (US$50 for a single entry; US$100 for multiple entries).
Visitors from certain countries can visit Taiwan without a visa but if you do require a visa upon checking, then the application procedures can be different when you are not in your home country. As for trips to China, a trip to the Chinese embassy is not necessary as visa application can now be done online, if one is required. Visa exemption will be given to visitors from Brunei, Japan, Singapore and San Marino (with Malaysia as a supported country). Travellers must also note that although Hong Kong and Macau are part of China, both places belong to the Special Administrative Region where their visa requirements are different from Mainland China.
It was made clear by the Royal Thai Embassy to Yangon that any visa applicants who use false certification would be blacklisted and permanently banned. Despite such serious warning, according to an official at Thai embassy, visa applications to the embassy using false documents are still being processed by a number of Myanmar brokers. With the cheaper packages in recent years, it is not a surprise for the Myanmar people to develop an interest in travelling to Thailand compared to their own country.
Due to the extra charge and risk bore by application via broker, the embassy suggested that visa applicants should apply for the Thailand visa themselves. Not only will there be a permanent ban of visa applicants who use false statements to apply for their visa, there will also be legal action against the brokers by the Embassy. Approximately 300 to 400 entry visas are issued by the embassy on a daily basis. The Thai embassy had also urged the people to report any irregularities to them.
Thailand has also relaxed the requirements for citizens from six Gulf countries who want to receive medical treatment in Thailand. Since February 2013, tourists from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to stay in Thailand without a visa for up to 90 days if they seek receive medical treatment in Thailand. They only need to present documents showing that they have appointment with medical institutes along with other financial certificates and related documents to be granted the visa exemption. This measure is part of the Thai kingdom’s campaign to become a regional medical hub.
Garuda Indonesia, the airline of Indonesia, has an immigration document handling service called "Immigration on Board". With this service, passengers on Garuda Indonesia flight will be able to obtain the visa on arrival (VOA) with the help from immigration officers assigned to the Garuda flight to Jakarta. This service is made possible with the collaboration of Garuda Indonesia and Directorate General of Immigration of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia. "Immigration on Board" has been available on the six routes, namely Tokyo (Narita) - Jakarta, Seoul - Jakarta, Sydney - Jakarta, Tokyo (Narita) - Denpasar, Osaka Denpasar and Sydney - Denpasar. Recently, this service is introduced on the Shanghai - Jakarta service as well. This move is to improve their customer service as well as supporting the Chinese and Indonesian tourism.
Passengers from Shanghai must first purchase a visa on arrival voucher at Garuda Indonesia check-in counters at Pudong International Airport, Shanghai to obtain this Immigration on Board Service. They will then be issued the visa-on-arrival, along with a special card, during the flight after getting their passport checked by two immigration officers. This special card has to be returned to the ground immigration officers at the airport upon arrival at Soekarno-Hatta. With this service, passengers do not need queue at the immigration counters anymore, leading to an enhanced travel experience in Indonesia. This eliminates the need for passengers from Shanghai to go through the hassle of applying for a visa beforehand.
Other than Shanghai, Garuda Indonesia also provides this service to Guangzhou and Beijing. This service is in tandem with the "Garuda Indonesia Experience" which brings the best of what Indonesia has to offer to passengers in all stages of their journey.
Photo Credit: Simon_sees
The ribbon of the Kuala Namu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra will be cut on the 25th day of July this year. This delightful news was announced to the local press by PT Angkasa Pura II’s Airport Director, Salahuddin Rafi. The future second busiest and largest airport in Indonesia shall replace the current Polonia International Airport that has served Medan for more than 70 years.
Kuala Namu is like a newly discovered oasis out of a degraded plantation and swamp land. It is located approximately 42km away from its predecessor that comes with a larger runway (3750m x 60m) and 33 aprons to let wide-body aircrafts to take off and land with great ease. In other words, Kuala Namu is more than happy to welcome Airbus A330/A380 and Boeing B747/B767 to its strips. The spanking new airport has a capacity of 8 million passengers and can accommodate 115.000 tonne cargo.
Even though Kuala Namu is ready to operate, the supporting amenities for the airport’s works are still facing challenges. For instance, the problem of the road infrastructure heading towards the airport has not been solved, including toll and arterial roads access, not forgetting the railway.
During this inescapable transition period, Polonia International Airport will continue to serve Medan alongside Kuala Namu. Access to Kuala Namu is possible through Damri buses and Trans Medan mini buses commuting between the city centre and the new airport. A planned new 172-passenger airport train service will be carrying passengers to and from Medan 15 times a day. It will also be the first train service in Indonesia which connects an airport terminal to the city.
Currently, Medan receives a handful of international flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Bangkok and Hong Kong, as well as domestic flights from various cities in Indonesia.
To be one of the first to step your feet on the state-of-the-art USD527-million magnificence, it is worthwhile to visit our Indonesia visa requirement page prior to flight and hotel bookings.
Photo Credit: Pasadena12
Malaysia is the one of the Commonwealth countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the United Kingdom with visa-free over six months. However, the Government of United Kingdom is now proposing to impose an additional visa requirement on the holders of Malaysian passports. In the near future, Malaysians may be required to apply for tourist visas before entering the United Kingdom.
The new proposal for Malaysians’ visa requirement by the immigration offices of the United Kingdom arose from the issue of overstay among 20,000 Malaysian passport holders. Yet the figure of overstay has not completed. Quite a number of non-Malaysians had sought after the Malaysian passports due to the six-month visa exemption to the United Kingdom. After passing through the exercises and customs at the United Kingdom border, the Malaysian passport holders will dispose their passports.
The additional visa requirement exerted on the Malaysian passport holders may fiercely slam down the growth of the outbound tourism to the United Kingdom. On another side of the coin, the overstaying Malaysian passport holders have deprived the National Health Service and other benefits from the domestic residents.
To stop the visa abuse, the Government of United Kingdom will consider the implementation of the “security bonds” on visitors from Malaysia. Or it will strengthen the promotional effectiveness of the propaganda over the “Assisted Voluntary Return” schemes and to help the overstayers leave with financial assistance. As a consequence, the overstayers will learn that the “14-year-long stay rule” has been eliminated for a period of time and they will be banned from returning to the United Kingdom up to 2 years.
Photo Credit: Curt Smith
The recent big project launched by the Philippines is the introduction of a new sticker for visa extension applicants. The reason behind this new implementation is to remove the roots of the rapid produce of fake visa stamps. And of course, to protect foreign travellers from being cheated and victimized.
The new sticker invented is machine–generated with security and tracking features which leave no chance for anyone to replicate or copy it. Also, it aids in accelerating the transactions in the Bureau of Immigration (BI), granting a more convenient way for the BI to detect any fraudulent of stickers. BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. stated that the new system took place last month.
Along with the new sticker, there is another good deal offered by the Philippines – LSVVE. Figured out what is it yet? Well, LSVVE is the abbreviation of Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension. This visa offers a stay of six months and all nationals are entitled to apply for it. However, do note that LSVVE will not be granted to visa – required nationals who have been in the country for more than 24 months and to visa – waived nationals who have exceeded a 36 months stay.
According to Antonette Mangrobang, the spokeswoman of BI, the fees for LSVVE application will be around 300USD. However, fellow travellers, make sure you have your regular tourist visa (if you are not eligible for visa exemption) before applying for a LSVVE.
Photo credit: PhotoPhilia (Wikipedia Takes Manila participant)
Currently, India offers VOA facility to 11 countries, namely Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. To lure more tourists from China to visit, the Indian Tourism Ministry is considering to introduce Visa on Arrival (VOA) facility to the Chinese. In fact, the Ministry has proposed this to the Home Ministry, along with 29 other countries.
When asked why China made it to the list, Indian Tourism Minister, K.Chiranjeevi stated, “There is a very good potential as far as tourism is concerned.” Other officials also think that, “India has a good potential to woo Chinese tourists. Besides, we have been observing that Chinese nationals are interested in visiting India keeping in view the cheaper travel to India as compared to other parts of the world.”
Through VoA facility, one can directly fly to the specific country and obtain the visa at her destination airport. When being enquired if the VoA facility will be become mutual, the actor-turned-minister said that it would be the next in line as India intends to welcome visitors to India first.
With the VoA facility extension from 11 to 41 countries, Chiranjeevi is confident that India will be able to reap more visitors from abroad. The objective is to make sure that India will get at least 1% share in the international tourist arrivals, which is 0.36% away from the current percentage. Having this said, it is evident that the visa regime is a key element to consider when one visits a country, mainly as tourists.
While waiting for the Home Ministry to approve the proposal, an India visa is still needed for visits to the country. Even though one may find it troublesome to get a visa, we are more than happy to run the errand for those in need.