As you anxiously await your US or Schengen visa, pondering if you’ll secure it in time for the Christmas-New Year holidays, consider alternative destinations like Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Turkey, Vietnam, or Sri Lanka. These nations are strategically positioning themselves to attract Indian travelers, capitalizing on India’s economic affluence and its burgeoning inclination towards international exploration.
A recent McKinsey study, unveiled on Thursday, illuminates a compelling future for Indian globetrotters. Fueled by relative economic prosperity and a mounting enthusiasm for international voyages, India could potentially follow in China’s footsteps regarding outbound travel. This trajectory could see Indian tourists embarking on 80 to 90 million journeys annually by the year 2040, as detailed in the report titled “From India to the World: Unleashing the Potential of India’s Tourists.”
Thailand, for instance, recently declared that Indian travelers won’t require a visa between November 10 and May 10, a gesture aimed at fostering a stronger bond with India. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expressed their desire to welcome more travelers from the subcontinent, highlighting the notable influx of Indian tourists. In 2022, Thailand received 965,994 Indian visitors, and in the first ten months of 2023, the number has risen to 1,302,483.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, vigorously positioning itself as a global tourism hub, has witnessed a surge in Indian tourists. A million visitors from India arrived in the kingdom until September, and they have set a target of hosting 2.4 million Indian tourists in 2024. Efforts to facilitate this include a substantial increase in flight frequency and capacity, along with the establishment of Tasheer offices (visa centers) in India. Furthermore, Indian passport holders with UK, US, and Schengen visas used at least once are now eligible to apply for a Saudi e-visa online.
Australia, in its bid to attract Indian travelers, has undertaken significant initiatives to simplify and expedite the visa application process. The digitalization of this process, coupled with faster processing timelines, has been pivotal in augmenting Indian tourist spending in Australia, reaching Rs 12,000 crore by June, reflecting a 24% increase since 2019.
Turkey has also solidified its position as a preferred destination for Indian weddings and holidays, thanks to direct flights. The country welcomed 199,966 Indian tourists in the first nine months of this year, anticipating a record-breaking number by year-end.
Sri Lanka has approved free visas for visitors from India, among other countries, until March 31, further enhancing their appeal. In 2023, up to September, Sri Lanka recorded one million tourists, with Indians comprising 20% of the arrivals. Participation in roadshows across various Indian cities has notably contributed to this growth.
Additionally, Russia initiated e-visas for Indian passport holders, simplifying travel approvals. The year-on-year growth for the Indian market has surged by 30%, reflecting the increasing appeal of Russia to Indian travelers.
These developments reflect the increasing desire among Indian travelers to explore new horizons. Airlines are increasing flight routes and connectivity, and travel agencies are reporting substantial spikes in demand. As Indian travelers expand their destinations, the world beckons with open arms, waiting to be explored.
So, while you await your US visa, know that exciting alternatives are on the horizon, and the world is ready to welcome you with open arms.