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Dubai is the largest overseas travel destination for Indians, Thailand second

Dubai is the largest overseas travel destination for Indians.

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Dubai, Feb 19, 2017: Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, has a lot riding on Indian travellers. The world’s largest democracy sent the maximum number of visitors to the Emirate state for the second consecutive year in 2016 and accounted for more than one-fifth of the growth in tourist arrivals in Dubai.

Dubai is the largest overseas travel destination for Indians. In 2016, a total of 1.8 million Indians visited Dubai either for business or leisure. In fact, 12 out of every hundred overseas visitors that Dubai had last year was an Indian. Further, the number of Indians who visited Dubai surged by 12 per cent last year, on a high base of 1.6 million in 2015.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his last Budget speech that about 20 million Indians travelled overseas for business or leisure in 2015 to substantiate his argument that we are a tax non-compliant society. The numbers for 2016 are not known but trends show that there should’ve been a double-digit jump.

Kazim said that on an average, every Indian spends more than three nights in Dubai and visitors include those opting for high-end luxurious hotels to three-star accommodations. People splurge on restaurants and shopping. He said that one out of every five visitors to Dubai comes for business, as trade ties continue to grow between India and the UAE.

Well, Dubai is not the only country benefiting from the rising number of Indian overseas travellers. In 2016, Singapore reported an eight per cent surge in travellers from India, which also overtook Australia to become the fourth largest source market for arrivals. A total of 1.09 million Indians visited Singapore in 2016 and constituted close to seven per cent of total international visitors. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, growth from India is helped by rising numbers in tier-I and -II cities.

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More countries welcome over a million Indians every year. Thailand, a popular budget tourist destination celebrated the arrival of a million Indian tourists (1.06 million) in 2015 and attracted 12 per cent more Indian visitors in 2016. A total of 1.19 million Indians visited Thailand last year.

Other countries are keen to grow the number of visitors from India to a million. Malaysia, which received 0.72 million visitors from India in 2015, hopes to welcome as many as a million visitors. “This year, we hope to achieve high targets from India, as much as one million arrivals,” Malaysian tourism and culture minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said earlier this week. A number of other destinations are seeing a double-digit growth in Indian visitors as well, though on a smaller base. These include countries such as Australia, South Africa and Kenya, among others. (IANS)

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 Go Missing

More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

The figures were revealed by Immigration Department officials to a Senate committee hearing on Monday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 8,103 athletes, media representatives and officials arrived in Australia on temporary visas for the Gold Coast event which concluded on April 15, with 7,848 returning home after their stay expired last week, meaning 255 stayed in the country.

Of those who have remained in Australia, 205 were legally in the community on bridging visas as they await approval to stay on a permanent basis. Border Force officials have commenced a nationwide search for the other 50 who have overstayed their visas.

The majority of foreigners seeking asylum in Australia were from war-torn African nations such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. However some members of the Indian and Pakistani teams have also remained in Australia.

Swimmers. Pixabay

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs deputy secretary, Malisa Golightly, told parliament on Monday night that most of the remaining participants “have applied for protection visas”.

“Anybody that is onshore can apply for protection legally once they are here, but of course then they are considered against … the criteria for that visa,” she said.

The temporary protection visas allow the Commonwealth Games participants to stay in Australia for up to three years and receive welfare benefits.

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, said he was disappointed with the number of people who have stayed illegally as they had been welcomed to Australia “in good faith”.

“Australians hate being taken for a ride by freeloaders,” Dutton told Newscorp Australia on Monday night.

Also Read:Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

“Australia is now obliged under international law to consider these protection visa applications.”

In comparison, only 45 people extended their visas or sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

–IANS