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Vietnam Looks to Offer Visa-Free Entry to Indians: India Report

After Thailand and Sri Lanka, Vietnam is now keen to offer visa-free entry to Indians, a testament to the growing global recognition of India as a powerful force in outbound travel.

After Sri Lanka and Thailand, Vietnam is likely to be the next destination to offer visa-free entry to Indians. According to local media, Vietnam Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung suggested it allow Indians and Chinese to visit without a visa for a short period. As of now, only nationals of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland can enter Vietnam without a visa.

In Numbers:

In the first 10 months of this year, Vietnam had almost 10 million visitors. This is a significant increase, about 4.6 times more than the same time last year. It’s even higher than the figure Vietnam was hoping to reach by the end of 2023.
Visa-Free Entry for Indians

Recently, both Thailand and Sri Lanka announced visa waivers for India. As of November 10, Thailand has eliminated the visa requirement for Indian travelers. This visa exemption permits Indian tourists to stay for 30 days and will remain in effect until May 10 of the following year. The Thai government has also indicated the potential for extending the program if there is an increase in demand.

In October, Sri Lanka also launched a program allowing visa-free entry for visitors from seven countries, such as India, China, and Russia, as part of a trial period. The pilot project will remain active until March 31, 2024.

What 1 Report States:

Beyond traditional tourist destinations, Indian travelers are now on a quest for novelty, craving authentic and immersive experiences, as highlighted in Booking.com’s report released in collaboration with McKinsey & Company.
As per the report, the strong economy, a growing middle class and a fairly young population, are driving these travelers.
Skift’s earlier articles have explored how Indian travellers are now opting for destinations that don’t require them to navigate the maze of visa applications.

Oyo’s Debt Repurchase Earns Positive Ratings from Moody’s and Fitch

Oyo recently initiated part prepayment of its debt through a buyback process. The company has said it will use internal cash to repurchase approximately $195 million (30%) of an outstanding loan of $645 million due in May 2026. Global credit rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s have termed Oyo’s move as positive.

Key points:

  • Moody’s has kept Oyo’s B3 stable rating unchanged.
  • Fitch has emphasised the positive effect on Oyo’s credit metrics and interest savings.
  • Fitch believes this move will enhance Oyo’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and hints at a possible positive rating adjustment.
  • Moody’s predicts Oyo will achieve an adjusted EBITDA of approximately $90-$100 million for the fiscal year 2024.
  • Oyo showed improvement in adjusted EBITDA for the the six months ending September 30, 2023. It made around $50 million, compared to a loss of $31 million during the same period in 2022.

Fitch Ratings stated that Oyo’s cash and equivalents could decrease to around $80 million from approximately $280 million in September 2023. Assuming Oyo repurchases $195 million of its outstanding loans, its total adjusted debt will be reduced to around $450 million. However, Moody’s notes that any rating upgrade is unlikely at this point due to Oyo’s short track record of positive EBITDA.

Moody’s Investors Service had earlier expected Oyo to generate between about $50 million and $55 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization — a measure of profit — this fiscal year.

IndiGo Expands Connectivity in Northern Europe

IndiGo is expanding its codeshare connections with Turkish Airlines to include Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo via Istanbul.

Key developments:

  • The connection to Oslo has already started while Helsinki and Stockholm flights will start from November 23.
  • This expansion increases connectivity to northern Europe, providing access to a total of 42 destinations beyond Istanbul.

Hilton to Bring Curio Collection by Hilton to India

Hotel Hilton has just signed a deal to bring its first Curio Collection hotel to India.

The Curio Collection includes upscale hotels that offer “special experiences.” The hotel will be located in Whitefield, Bengaluru, about an hour from the Kempegowda International Airport. The newest establishment in Whitefield, Bengaluru, will feature 221 rooms. As Whitefield is popular for housing numerous multinational companies, startups, and IT tech firms, the hotel aims to cater to both business and leisure travellers.

In April 2023, Hilton announced the launch of its luxury brand Waldorf Astoria in India. The Curio Collection will join Hilton’s collection of 25 operating and 12 pipeline hotels and resorts in India. This brings the company’s portfolio of brands in India to seven. Hilton has been slowing in scaling of operations in India, but according to Alan Watts, Asia Pacific president of Hilton, even though it has been patient in the Indian market, Hilton wants to replicate the China success model in India.

More Countries Urge India to Increase Flight Operations

Destinations, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore and Indonesia, have urged India to increase the allocation of seats for their airlines and encourage Indian carriers to expand their flight operations to more destinations within these countries, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

However, as of now, none of these requests have been entertained or acted upon. This appeal comes in the wake of a substantial rise in the volume of travelers, particularly in the period preceding the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent relaxation of travel constraints. Other nations that have urged India to increase flight operations include Qatar, Malaysia, and Turkey.

The government believes that if they allow foreign airlines to increase their operations through more agreements, it could make it challenging for Indian airlines to grow internationally.

How to Promote Tourism Around Taj? Prepare a Master Plan

Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) is working on a plan for a 10,500-hectare area in Agra in a bid to boost tourism around the Taj Mahal. The authority plans to allocate 7% of a 10,500-hectare area for tourism activities around the Taj Mahal. YEIDA expects an increase in foreign tourists once the Noida International Airport begins operating next year.

The authority believes that there is significant potential for establishing a robust hospitality industry near Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal has long been neglected with some sectors in India keen to rewrite the monument’s history.

Kerala Tourism Investor Meet Attracts INR 150 Billion Investment

Kerala recently held its first-ever Tourism Investors Meet (TIM), and the state received investment offers totalling INR 150 billion.

Key developments:

  • One significant agreement was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kerala Tourism and Tamara Leisure Experiences.
  • This INR 2,500 million deal involves the Bengaluru-based hospitality group executing houseboat hotel projects in the Alappuzha and Kannur districts.
  • The day-long discussions in the state capital concluded on Thursday night, leading the Tourism Department to establish a dedicated facilitation centre.
  • This new centre, led by the Tourism Secretary, will take prompt actions following the outcomes of the discussions and business meetings at the investors’ meet.

The meet had almost 500 participants, including 46 startups and 118 investors in Responsible Tourism. There were a total of 75 projects discussed, with 52 coming from the private sector. Out of these, 23 were proposed by the tourism department, and 16 were suggested as public-private partnerships, with investment offers totalling INR 2.51 billion. Among the 52 private sector proposals, 21 projects secured investment offers of INR 12.61 billion.

Source: Skift