Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka offer visa-free entry for Indians in 2023

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malaysia, thailand and sri lanka offer visa free entry for indians in 2023

Malaysia is set to redefine travel dynamics with a groundbreaking 30-day visa-free entry for Indian and Chinese citizens, slated to roll out on December 1, 2023. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, donning the hat of Finance Minister, unveiled this strategic move, signaling a bold step toward resuscitating the tourism sector battered by the COVID-19 aftermath.

This sweeping visa waiver, supplementing existing exemptions for Gulf nations and select West Asian counterparts like Turkiye and Jordan, comes with a robust security screening protocol. Anwar Ibrahim underscored the rigorous evaluation, emphasizing that individuals with criminal records or potential ties to terrorism would face entry restrictions.

The 30-day visa-free entry mirrors perks already enjoyed by eight ASEAN countries, extending its reach to cover social visits, tourism, and business. With an ambitious target of 16.1 million international tourist arrivals and a projected RM 49.3 billion in tourism receipts, Malaysia positions itself as an enticing global destination.

New Visa Rules

India, a significant contributor to Malaysia’s tourism tapestry, takes center stage in this visionary move. In 2022, Malaysia welcomed 324,548 Indian tourists, witnessing a remarkable surge with 164,566 Indian visitors in the first quarter of 2023 compared to a mere 13,370 in the same period last year, as per data from Tourism Malaysia.

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Facilitating this travel bonanza are 158 weekly flights, offering 30,032 seats between India and Malaysia through leading carriers such as Malaysia Airlines, Batik Air, AirAsia, and IndiGo, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Malaysia.

This strategic maneuver aligns with global trends, mirroring similar visa waivers implemented by Sri Lanka and Thailand. Sri Lanka’s visa-free entry initiative, encompassing India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, aspires to draw five million tourists until March 31, 2024.

Thailand, too, has embraced openness, waiving visa requirements for Indian and Taiwanese visitors from November 10, 2023, to May 10, 2024, enabling Indian passport holders to savor up to 30 days in Thailand without the hassle of a visa.

These visionary visa-free entry schemes emerge as catalysts for the revival of the tourism sector post-COVID-19’s far-reaching impacts. Asia, heavily reliant on tourism for economic sustenance, views these measures as pivotal in rejuvenating the industry, fostering cross-border exchanges, and heralding a new era for international travel.

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