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With 5% VAT from January 1, trips to UAE to cost more

NEW DELHI, Dec 27: A trip to United Arab Emirates — with its emirate of Dubai being one of the most popular foreign destinations for Indian travellers — will cost 5-7% more from the New Year. Due to its dwindling oil fortunes and weakening economy, UAE will levy VAT at 5% from January 1, 2018, on a majority of goods and services including hotels, sightseeing tours and car hires.

"Accordingly, tour costs to UAE will increase by 6% to 7% due to the 5% tax and compliance cost that businesses will incur. Dubai is the biggest draw for outbound Indians and they, too, will have to pay more," said Anil Kalsi of Delhi-based Ambe World Travels.

"Even if we had confirmed bookings earlier for any service, 5% VAT will be applicable on services rendered in UAE from January 1, 2018.... We are in the process of sending amended invoice with 5% VAT for services already confirmed and invoiced. We request you to inform your guests in advance," says a mail circulated among tour agents in India by a leading travel distributor.

With UAE, especially Dubai, being a huge draw for Indian travellers, big travel companies have said they will try to minimise the impact of the enhanced cost for end users.

Karan Anand of Cox & Kings Ltd said: "The cost of a UAE holiday will rise marginally. Rhis has been factored in by travellers who plan to visit the Emirates. However, this will be offset by holiday offers we have lined up for Indian travellers who plan to celebrate the New Year, or travel for the Dubai Shopping Festival.... The UAE has been an attractive destination for Indians, and this year, Indian arrivals to Dubai crossed one million."

Just how big a draw UAE is for Indians can be gauged from the fact that of the 5.3 crore international travellers in 2016, 1.8 crore—over one-third of the total—had travelled between India and UAE. Mumbai-Dubai, followed by Delhi-Dubai were the two busiest international routes to and from India.

While many of those were flyers taking connecting flights from UAE's mega hubs like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a majority of the 1.8 crore were flying between India and UAE.

Malaysia Launches Free Visas To Attract One Million Indian Visitors

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Feb 16: Aiming to attract one million Indian visitors this year, Malaysia has launched a new visa scheme that allows Indian passport holders to get an e-visa for a 15-day stay within 48 hours from the comforts of their homes. Announcing this here, Malaysian Minister of Tourism and Culture Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the visa is for free. The visa fee has been waived. One has to pay only $ 20 processing fees.

India is the sixth top tourist generating market for Malaysia with a total 722,141 Indian visitors recorded in 2015. Last year, from January to October, Malaysia received a total of 540,530 Indian tourists. Malaysia hopes to achieve one million arrivals from the India market this year.

As a step towards garnering support from the travel trade fraternity, Tourism Malaysia and India travel leaders like as Rajan Sehgal, Chairman (Northern Region) of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Pradip Lulla, Vice President, of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and Guldeep Singh Sahni, President of Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) signed a commitment plaque fortifying each other’s commitment to promoting travel from India.

Besides the Tourism Minister, Malaysian side was represented by Director General Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab and Director General of Immigration Dato' Sri Haji Mustafar Bin Haji Ali and Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah, Deputy Secretary General MOTAC.

Later in the evening, Indian travel agents were felicitated for their efforts in promoting Malaysia to the Indian travellers.

Tourism Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri said that sustainable tourism development was no longer a mere cliché but a major contributor to a more environmentally responsible economy.

“With the right investment, tourism can be a lead change agent in the move towards a green economy. It simultaneously improves resource efficiency, minimizes environmental degradation and raises environmental awareness among travellers,” he said.

With such niche tourism on a rise, Malaysia is also pushing its special interest packages for premium shopping, luxury travels, sports tourism such as golf, and the country as a wedding and honeymoon destination.

Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri informed that the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

He said Malaysia is keen to promote its four UNESCO heritage sites — Kinabalu National Park in Sabah, Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Melaka and George Town cities, and the archaeological heritage site of Lenggong Valley.

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