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It's peak travel season and two of the hottest international destinations for Indians -Thailand and Hong Kong -have taken diametrically opposite views on visitors from the country.

It's peak travel season and two of the hottest international destinations for Indians -Thailand and Hong Kong -have taken diametrically opposite views on visitors from the country.

While Thailand has either waived or halved visitor visa fees for Indians for three months, Hong Kong now wants them to take pre-authorisation and has withdrawn the visa-on-

The Royal Thai consulate general said in a statement: "From December 1, 2016, until February 28, 2017, Thailand will launch a temporary visa fee exemption scheme and a temporary visa on arrival fee reduction scheme.

All applicants applying for tourist visa (single entry) to Thailand during the aforementioned period will be exempted from the visa fee. During the period, visa on arrival (VoA) fee will be decreased from 2,000 THB (Thai Baht) to 1,000 THB for applicants of nationalities which are entitled to apply for VoA at the designated immigration checkpoints."

With an exchange rate of Rs 1.9 to a THB, visitors will now pay about Rs 2,000 for VoA. "Indians taking a Thai visa beforehand used to pay a visa fee (single entry) of Rs 2,000 along with VFS charges of Rs 335.Now those seeking a visa before leaving for Thailand will have to pay only Rs 335 VFS fee.

The move may stimulate travel from India to Thailand. Since demonetisation, travel has reduced in India, especially leisure travel," said Anil Kalsi of Delhi-based Ambe World Travels. While Thailand -which is among the top five international destinations for Indian international outbound visitors -wants more tourists from the country , Hong Kong has stopped granting 14-day VoA to Indians.

"From January 23, Indian nationals must apply for and complete online pre-arrival registration before enjoying their 14day visa-free visit, or entering Hong Kong during transit. The pre-arrival registration for Indian nationals' platform will launch on December 19.Registration is free. The computer system will display the result instantly once the registration is made," the Hong Kong information services department website said.

Holders of an Indian diplomatic or official passport or a Hong Kong Travel Pass are exempted from the requirement. Indian nationals enrolled as frequent visitors using the e-Channel service are also exempted, the website says. Hong Kong's decision, say travel agents, was prompted by `abuse' of its VoA facility by some Indians.

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