NEW DELHI: The ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC) has suggested that all the 10 member states of ASEAN and India standardise tourist visa charges to facilitate travellers from the region to the republic and vice-versa.
Its co-chairman, Ramesh Kodammal, said the move would promote tourism, trade and connectivity between India and ASEAN countries, which together account for more than 1.83 billion people.
“The simplification of the visa process by standardising the rates for all tourists from ASEAN to India and vice-versa could help the further development of people-to-people exchanges between the bloc and the republic by enhancing convenience for tourists and business persons as well as repeat visitors,” he said.
He was speaking to Malaysian journalists on the sidelines of the 10th edition of the two-day Delhi Dialogue (DD X) themed “Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation” which ends here Thursday.
Ramesh said ASEAN and India have been preferred destinations for honeymoons and weddings, and standardising visa charges could help boost tourism receipts in the respective countries.
“Besides, ASEAN also has the largest congregation of Buddhists and Hindus going to India regularly to visit religious sites.
“Thus standardising visa charges for them could increase tourist arrivals that could be beneficial to India,” he said.
On the call by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for countries in the ASEAN bloc to open consulates in Guwahati in Assam, a state in India’s north-east, Ramesh said the move would help promote business and tourism.
He said the large population of the 10 ASEAN countries along with Assam, coupled with good connectivity between Assam and ASEAN countries, would open up new avenues for business between the bloc and Northeast India.
On another note, Ramesh said Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises should start looking at India as their next destination of growth.
He said AIBC will be organising the ASEAN-India Business Summit in Kuala Lumpur in October with about 150 participants from India expected to attend.
The Delhi Dialogue is a premier annual ‘Track 1.5 event’ that discusses political security as well as economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and ASEAN.
This is the first major event to be organised after the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi in January 2018.
Twenty media practitioners from ASEAN who are part of the ASEAN-India media exchange programme are attending the dialogue. -APP