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Philippines to ease e-visa requirements for Indians

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SHRESHTH GUPTA-UNSPLASH

THE PHILIPPINES seeks to ease e-Visa transactions for Indians, the presidential palace said on Thursday, after a move by some of its Southeast Asian neighbors to offer visa-free entry to travelers from the world’s most populous nation.

Easing e-visa processing for India’s 1.4 billion people would boost the Philippine tourism sector, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said at a meeting with the tourism sector of the Private Sector Advisory Council on Wednesday, according to a statement from the presidential palace.

Mr. Marcos said the Philippines does not have major issues with India, which would make it easier for Manila to ease visa processes for its citizens.

Under the e-Visa system, Indian nationals must still appear before the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, reducing the efficiency of the system, LT Group, Inc. President Lucio C. Tan III said at the meeting.

He noted that e-visa processing for Indian tourists could take about a month.

He proposed for the government to partner with a third-party service provider to “establish, run and maintain” the e-Visa system.

“This will ensure that the program is consistently monitored and that any challenges in the process and the system will be immediately [addressed],” Mr. Tan said. “This will likewise streamline the application process and thus generate more applications due to the expedited process.”

The e-Visa system for Indian nationals is still in beta testing, piloted only for walk-in clients of the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, the palace said.

Indian nationals are “repeat visitors” who stay an average of eight nights and spend $100 daily in the Philippines, the advisory council told Mr. Marcos.

It added that 78% of Indian visitors stay in hotels. Their activities include shopping, sightseeing, beach holidays, diving, visiting friends and relatives and investing.

“India’s fast-growing economy and rising middle class are projected to help outbound trips reach 30 million by 2025,” the palace said, citing the council.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand and Malaysia now offer visa-free entry to visitors from India, while Vietnam and Indonesia are planning to follow suit. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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