INDIAN tourists are awaiting the implementation of an electronic visa (e-visa) system in the Philippines, anticipating that this move will boost tourism traffic from India, including attracting spontaneous travelers.
The e-visa system will allow tourists from India to apply for and obtain a visa online, which will streamline the visa application process and make it more convenient for tourists to visit the Philippines.
Simplified visa processes can give a host country a competitive advantage in the global tourism and business landscape, attracting more visitors and investment.
Dileep Tiwari, president of India Business Forum Association Philippines Inc. said Indian tourists are looking forward to this initiative, particularly because the Philippines continues to be an untapped destination for Indians.
“There are hurdles that our embassy and the Philippine government are trying to resolve. The most important is the visa issue. We wish the Philippines government will provide the visa on arrival for India. It will really pave the way for the influx of Indian tourists,” he said.
Sadre Alam, economics and commerce counselor from the Embassy of India, said the Philippine government is eyeing to implement the e-visa system among Indian nationals by the end of this year.
Alam said 18 million Indians venture abroad each year, seeking fresh destinations to discover.
“Being the fifth largest economy in the world, the people in India have lots of aspirations— to travel, to see different places now,” added Tiwari.
But most of them, he said, choose Bangkok and Dubai, for example, as their preferred travel destinations, because of ease of travel to these countries. In addition, when it comes to destination weddings, Switzerland emerges as one of the top picks alongside Thailand.
“The Philippines is still untapped by the Indian population as of now… Your country has extremely beautiful beaches. If we could highlight these it will be a big revenue generator from Indian tourists,” he said.
Outbound travel demand
Over 21 million Indians traveled out of their country in 2022, with the top five destinations being the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Singapore and Thailand.
“Indians are hungry to travel. And once this visa on arrival in the Philippines is implemented, non-planned trips will happen a lot,” he said.
Alam said Indians love to visit the Philippines and in fact, extend their stay because of its people and the Filipino brand of hospitality.
“Filipinos are lovely,” he said.
The growing demand for outbound travel reflects the evolving aspirations and improving financial capabilities of India’s expanding middle-income class and youth population.
Indian passport holders are said to enjoy visa-free or visa on arrival access to 57 countries.
Indian arrivals to Cebu stood at 4,645 in 2022.
Besides the e-visa implementation, Alam also said that air talks for possible directly flights between India and the Philippines are set to start by the end of this year or early next year.
“Air connectivity and the ease of getting visa will catapult the number of Indian tourists to the Philippines,” he said.
The Philippines and India have signed a new and modernized air services agreement in 2021 to further strengthen connectivity and mutual economic growth between the two countries.
The air services agreement was signed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation
The DOTr said the agreement aims to promote international air services between the two countries’ respective territories, advance a quality international aviation system, and ensure the highest degree of air safety.
The agreement also opens the market for competition where multiple airlines can operate and more flights will be flown, helping spur competition and air connectivity for both countries, the agency said.