With an increasing number of Indians opting for visa friendly destinations, Bhutan seems to be on top of people’s checklist, recording a 136.18 per cent increase in travel searches, according to a new study. The survey by Skyscanner has taken into account the travel queries made by over 50 million monthly visitors to reveal the visa-friendly destinations favoured by Indian passport holders in the first half of 2016. According to it, destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles in the Asian and Indian Ocean neighbourhood have benefited from “drastic increases” in flight searches when compared with the same period in 2015.
“Neighbouring Bhutan has witnessed a whopping increase of 136 per cent in travel searches since last year owing to its no prior visa policy for citizens of India.
“Long-time favourite, Thailand takes the lion’s share of Indian searches in the first half of 2016 with 38 per cent of Indian travellers looking for a visa-friendly getaway opting for Thailand,” the study said.
Seychelles – where Indian travellers are granted a visa-on-arrival – recorded a 23 per cent soar in searches year over year, the largest increase among Indian Ocean destinations.
Flight searches to Mauritius and Maldives, which both allow Indian travellers a 90-day visa free stay, have jumped
19 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
“In a short span of time, the repertoire of countries providing visa-friendly travel to Indians has grown immensely, giving more options to people to explore international destinations. It comes as no surprise we are seeing visa-friendly destinations grow in popularity,” Reshmi Roy, Growth Manager at Skyscanner said.
Indonesia is also one of the popular alternatives with a 16 per cent spike in searches.
“Our data shows flight searches for Indonesia from across Indian have soared, thanks to its recently relaxed visa policy that now allows Indian passport holders a visa-free stay of 30 days,” the study said.
Another destination that is a trending city for Indian travellers is Macau which has out-performed the all-time favourite Hong Kong.
“Perhaps benefiting from the ‘James Bond’ effect or a 30-day visa-exemption, Macau has witnessed an increase of 17 per cent in travel searches,” the survey said.