Skift Take

Most countries are still prejudiced against the Indian passport. That's a shame. Indian travelers are a legitimate, growing source for the global tourism industry. Thailand understands that; Australia not yet. Maybe it'll take a cricket match to change that.

For a country that has produced the likes of Google CEO Pichai Sundararajan, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Novartis’ Vasant Narasimhan, Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi, and a whole lot of other brilliant, high-profile people, India still gets shoddy treatment with visas for its traveling citizens.

One would think that by now — with such luminaries helming Fortune 500 companies, and with India’s expanding middle class — countries globally would have recalibrated their idea of the Indian traveler, which would seem to be mired in the slums.

Indians love to travel yet countries are prejudiced against the Indian passport. Visa applications require such evidence as sufficient funds to cover the travel and are tedious — just look at what Australia wants in the article below and why this has resulted in visa processing delays.

Those requirements are not unusual for emerging markets. But from where we sit in the Skift Asia office, it’s hard to think of India as an emerging market in the same way as, say, Myanmar. Like travel advisories, there are layers of the word “emerging.” One thinks of Bangalore, India’s own Silicon Valley, young and hungry entrepreneurs, and yes, those high-flying CEOs. It’s a rising giant with 1.3 billion people, loads of them having traveled and endured onerous visa procedures because of their love for travel.

Surely it’s high time to review and ease some of the visa policies for India. Countries have been quick to ease visa restrictions for Chinese travelers. Why not do the same for Indians?

India will generate 6.5 million outbound luxury travelers and meetings/incentives participants by 2020, tipped a Mastercard report in 2017. Australia, which is hosting the Cricket World Cup 2020, will not want to miss the chance of attracting cricket-crazy Indians. Why not make the event the impetus to rethink visa policies for Indians?

— Raini Hamdi, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @RainiHamdi

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Australia’s Visa Bottleneck Jeopardizes Luring Cricket-Crazed Indians for World Cup Next Year: Claims that Indian travel agents are discouraging clients from going to Australia may be overblown. But they do not detract from the key issue: Australia must streamline visa processing better, especially if it wants to attract Indians to the Cricket World Cup 2020.

Dambulla, Sri Lanka. Source: Pierre Le Bigot, Flickr

What the Western Media Gets Wrong About Sri Lanka Tourism: The Western media jumped on a 57 percent drop in arrivals to Sri Lanka in June. That’s only half the story, and one that could cause readers to postpone visits. The destination is actually on the mend.

Underperforming Philippines Extends Tax Breaks to Attract Tourism Investors: Despite its beautiful beaches, the Philippines is a tourism underperformer in Southeast Asia. It keeps luring investors with tax breaks. Critics say maybe it’s better to prioritize peace and order instead. Both are required.

Thailand Wants Travelers to Visit New Places: Will Tour Operators Get On Board? Tourism Authority of Thailand executives are keen to spread the tourism wealth to its emerging destinations. Encouraging tour operators to offer programs beyond the popular destinations is a noble goal, but are the tour operators listening?

Google Parent Alphabet’s Smart City Vision in Toronto Poses Privacy Concerns: As data security and privacy become more important, the vision for the modern smart city will have to shift. Asia-Pacific, the region said to have the largest share of spending in the internet of things, should heed lessons in this article.

BCD Travel and Flight Centre Make More Global Acquisitions: It’s pretty clear there’s a lot of consolidation going on in the travel management space, and there are no signs of that changing. With BCD’s most recent investment, the company is in a good position to start planning future acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: asia, australia, philippines, skift weekly asia, sri lanka, thailand

Photo credit: Indian travelers in Kolkata, India. Australia's onerous application process has led to visa processing delays. Bikas Das / The Associated Press

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