Malaysian corporates are reconsidering sending incentive groups to India, in lieu of the increase in visa fees.
Recently, the India government increased the visa fees for Malaysians to RM462.60 (US$156.30). The fee hike will also come with an increased stay period covered by the multi-entry visa, from the existing six months (at a price of RM194.60) to a year.
Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager at New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel, opined: “The hike in visa fee has drastically impacted travel considerations. It is not practical to pay so much for a one-time travel to India. Companies can travel by LCC within South-east Asia for the price of the Indian visa. Destinations like Delhi, Jaipur and Kerala, which are popular incentive destinations, will lose out because of the new visa fee.”
Raaj pointed out that a group of 32 pax that were initially looking at a five-day incentive trip to Kerala have decided to switch destinations to either Sri Lanka or the Maldives. A similar sized group however, will be proceeding with their planned incentive to Kerala next month as visa applications had already been completed prior to the fee hike.
“That same company however, is reluctant to pay for last minute additions, as it means having to pay the new visa fee,” he shared.
For Stephen Thomas, managing director at Topaz Travel & Tours, his company has two incentive groups – one of which is from the property sector, – that have decided to change destinations in lieu of the fee hike. The original plan of a five- to seven-day incentive to Delhi in 2019 has now been changed to Japan or Dubai.
“The other group of 90, which hails from the oil and gas sector, are now considering Nepal instead of Kerala,” Thomas said.
Similarly for Hidden Asia Travel & Tours’ managing director Nanda Kumar, a group of 40 pax from the automobile industry are now eyeing Sri Lanka or Thailand as possible alternatives for their incentive trip this September. They had originally planned to visit Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
“The new visa fee has made it harder to promote India as an incentive destination. It is almost the same price as a trip to Delhi which costs between RM500 to RM650 on an LCC; and to the south Indian cities of Trichy and Chennai for less than RM500,” Nanda remarked.