- Posted by Sean on November 11, 2015 in Economic Market
It’s no secret that China’s economy has faced some pretty rough times in the last year. The world is still feeling the aftermath following “Black Monday” on the 24th of August. But are we out of the woods yet? Or are the global financial markets wrestling a bull twice their size? We’re going to look at China’s stock market and economy and make some predictions for the future.
The Chinese Stock Market
China’s stock market saw significant gains earlier this year. In June, China’s Shanghai Composite Index, which indicates the market’s performance, was up 60% since the start of the year – a six year high. People were investing huge amounts into the financial markets – after all, they were rising and no-one wanted to miss out. Fuelled by low interest rates (meaning people could easily borrow to invest) and laws that made it easier to buy and sell shares to the public, this pushed the market into a bubble. Shares were trading far above their intrinsic value, showing sure signs that a crash was to come.
What Goes Up, Must Come Down.
And down it did – on August 24th, the Chinese markets fell almost 8.5% in a single day, their steepest fall ever. Hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped from global share markets, leaving investors scared of what would happen to the world’s second largest economy and the worldwide impact that this would have. Chinese stocks have since rebounded, surging to 20% above its August low.
Outside of the markets, Chinese growth is slowing, falling to around 7% per year. China is heading towards the end of its “industrial revolution” period, meaning that it won’t be seeing the same prosperity it achieved in recent decades. In fact, China is tackling its biggest slowdown in 25 years. This has a huge kickback on the rest of the world – global demand for commodity prices is falling. Iron ore exports from Australia are being hit as hard as oil exports from the Middle East. China’s slowdown, given its size, effectively means global slowdown. This was always inevitable – after all, such high growth is never infinitely sustainable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a shock to the globe.
See the problem here? The stock market is ramping up, while the companies that the stocks represent are slowing down. Currently, Chinese stocks are trading at a price to earnings ratio of around 38% above their five year average. A representative from Credit Suisse (a highly regarded financial services juggernaut) has gone on record to say that this is essentially another bubble – and he could well be right. The fundamental value (the earnings and the assets) of these stocks haven’t improved, but their prices have soared. When prices get too inflated, the market will correct itself again, like it did in August. But at what cost to investors and the rest of the world? Who knows.
In order to bolster growth, the Chinese government has decreased interest rates six times in the last year (it currently sits at 4.35%). Lower interest rates are the government’s way of trying to encourage spending and economic growth – so that it becomes cheaper for people to borrow money and invest it into their business or personal projects. However this is a double edged sword – making it easier for people to borrow money to invest in the stock market. When people have more money, the demand and therefore the price of these stocks increase substantially, throwing fuel on the stock market fire.
Does this mean that the world will collapse? After all, China is a huge player in the global markets.
Well not quite – the world has survived worse, such as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. But a market correction seems quite likely if share earnings (and therefore underlying value) continue to underperform compared to the market price. Though, the world is bracing itself for this, so the impact will be lessened as people diversify and hedge their bets away from the volatile mass that are China’s financial markets. For example, the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates was justified by “uncertainty abroad”, likely referring to China’s instability. It seems global markets are therefore preparing themselves to withstand another crash.
A number of Chinese stock market regulative professionals have been fired for, what appears to be, corruption. Many argue that China’s stock market regulators have been incompetent for years now – following a policy of “do nothing until something goes drastically wrong”. While some of these have now moved on, it shows a very worrying lack of preparation and understanding as to how to deal with global fallout. This attitude has also been prevalent in other areas of Chinese regulation – pollution, food safety and working conditions. In China’s move to becoming a modern economy, it must address these issues. In the meantime, a stock correction is inevitable. Exactly when this will occur is, quite literally, a trillion dollar question.
While China’s stock market isn’t appealing, if you’re looking for international money transfer services from New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, OrbitRemit offers low cost transfers to a growing number of countries. Check out our calculator on the top right hand side of the screen to work out exactly how much will come out on the other side!
- Posted by Sean on October 13, 2015 in Banking Economic Market
After two days of debating, the United States Federal Reserve (the Fed) decided not to raise the Federal Funds Rate at its Federal Open Market Committee meeting on the 17th September. Their next meeting is set for the 28th of October, keeping financial traders, analysts and international businesses on their toes. But why is the Federal Funds Rate important to anyone outside of the US? Well, we’re going to explain that – along with some predictions as to what will happen to the rate.
The Federal Funds Rate
The large banks have accounts with the Fed. The end-of-the-day balances in these accounts are used to meet the reserve requirements set by the Fed. If a bank expects to have a larger daily balance than it needs, it can lend the extra to an institution that expects to have a shortfall in its own balance. The interest rate set by the Fed, known as the Federal Funds Rate, represents the interest rate the bank has to pay to borrow this money. Since the Federal Funds Rate is the banks’ interest rate, this trickles down to everyday borrowers like you and I – since the banks pass on the cost quickly. While most loans aren’t directly tied to the Federal Funds rate, interest rates generally move in the same direction.
How Do Interest Rates Affect The Currency Markets?
If you don’t live in America, you might be wondering how you’re impacted by this. As interest rates go up in the US, overseas investors see an opportunity to increase the returns they’re getting on their investments. These investments increase the demand for the USD, causing it to appreciate when compared to other currencies (such as the EURO).
This means you’ll get more EUROs when you cash in your USD, but less USD when you cash in your EUROs. Further to this, the Federal Funds Rate is a telling sign as to what the experts think of the state of the economy. Increasing interest rates, which increases the cost of borrowing, slows down the over-demand that drives inflation.
If officials are increasing the Federal Funds Rate, it appears that they believe inflation will increase in the near future. Since the US is such an economic leader, these signs are immediately priced into the global currency and stock markets, altering the value of the USD and the currency of its global business partners.
So Will the Fed Raise Rates?
“Will the Fed raise rates?” is literally the million, or even billion, dollar question. Although, many economists believe the more appropriate question is “When will the Fed raise rates?” As things currently stand, the Federal Funds Rate currently sits at 0.25% – with no raise since June 2006 (before the dreaded Global Financial Crisis).
Essentially, the Fed is waiting for signs of a strong economy. Recently released US employment figures were underwhelming (you can find these here) and indicate that the US may not be as “rock solid” as experts have thought. Adding to this are other global concerns: the Chinese Yuan devaluation and stock market turmoil coupled with falling oil prices, creating uncertainty and fear in the worldwide financial markets. Despite this, the US has recovered from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008 and many experts argue that a rate rise is necessary to avoid mass credit growth (as increasing interest rates raises the cost of borrowing money) and prevent future economic downturns like the GFC.
Even with currently low inflation (0.2%), the Fed is targeting inflation of 2% by 2018 – it may increase rates to maintain this. Many international central bankers favour a hike and have done all that they can to prepare, such as letting their currencies float to absorb inflation for cheaper imports. It appears the rest of the world sees a hike as guaranteed and would prefer a quick execution of this, as opposed to having to wait for the inevitable.
It may well be that the Fed will hold off on raising rates until early next year, or even later, but it’s difficult to say. Goldman Sachs, one of the US’s largest investment banks, pegs the chance of an October rate rise at around 8% likelihood, though a rise before December next year is predicted to be a little over 90%. In fact – they believe there’s a sizeable chance that the Fed will raise rates twice between now and the end of next year.
While an October rise seems fairly unlikely in spite of things, it can’t be entirely ruled out. The world will watch for the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on the 28th of this month – the results may well surprise us.
If you’re looking to transfer money from New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, OrbitRemit offers low cost international money transfers to the US. Check out our calculator on the top right hand side of the screen to work out exactly how much will come out on the other side!
- Posted by Sean on October 6, 2015 in Technology Travel
Planning a trip soon? Here’s the essential apps you need to stay organised.
Planning a trip away can be confusing, disorganised and expensive, so it’s important to keep track of all your travel info to make sure you don’t end up lost or paying unnecessary extra fees. These travel apps can help make your next trip fun, cheap and stress-free.
A lot of your holiday planning will be simply about finding the cheapest and most convenient flights. Thankfully, there are a multitude of flight search apps to help you find the right flights, including SkyScanner’s mobile app. This app has a fantastic search interface for finding the cheapest flights. You can look for a flight on certain dates to anywhere in the world based on where it might be inexpensive to flight during that time. So if you’re on a budget and you’re wondering where to go next, just ask SkyScanner. The app also has an interactive graph to find the cheapest surrounding dates to travel which is super handy for those who are a bit more flexible.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
With TripIt, you can access your travel itinerary and all your trip information in one place. All you have to do is handle the bookings and forward the info to your TripIt account which transforms all the relevant travel information into one day-by-day master itinerary. You can then access that information at any time without the need for Wi-Fi or data, via the mobile app or a web browser. This is a highly useful app for the frequent traveller or if you’ve got a lot of flights and hotels to keep track of!Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Firefox.
With Airbnb you can discover thousands of places to stay in over 34,000 cities around the world. With all kinds of accommodation on offer, from single-rooms to penthouse apartments, Airbnb is super useful for finding affordable last minute bookings as well as long-term sublets. Airbnb gives you a unique experience of a city and you’ll find it might be very different to a hotel or hostel. You can message the hosts of the accommodation directly to find out all the info you need about check-in and house rules.Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
XE Currency Converter
The XE Currency App is a currency converter app for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows. The app allows you to convert currency on-the-go and keep track of live exchange rates and historical charts. The app frequently updates the exchange rates so even if you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and don’t have any Wi-Fi, you can still convert to the most recent rate. With over 25 million downloads, XE Currency is the most downloaded foreign exchange app and was even featured on Apple’s app of the week! And of course, if you want to get rid of the third-party ads and store double the amount of currencies in your app, you can upgrade to the PRO version for $1.99.Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Gogobot is a social travel app that helps you find places to stay, places to eat and things to do. I know what you’re thinking – there are hundreds of these types of apps, and you are totally right – but Gogobot stands out because it’s reliable. This is because of the size of the active Gogobot community that upload millions of photos, ratings and information for different places around the world. Much like TripAdvisor, Gogobot can help you book hotels, find great restaurants and attractions with the help of thousands of reviews and ratings. You can also explore different tags in each city to find the places you want to go that suit your interests, whether it be foodie culture, music, bars or nightclubs. The sheer number of user photos also helps you get a better understanding of what each place is actually like before you go there. Best of all, Gogobot is completely free to download.Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Firefox.
Don’t forget to check out OrbitRemit’s money transfer app if you have a bank account in a country you are visiting. OrbitRemit makes it easy to send money to accounts in other countries and it costs less than other methods!
- Posted by Sean on September 8, 2015 in Economic Market Migration
Moving to another country can be difficult and scary, especially to a competitive Western economy like the UK but you’ll be happy to know that finding your first job in Britain isn’t as hard as you might think. At the peak of the recession in 2008, hundreds of qualified professionals were unemployed across the United Kingdom, but now firms are very willing to increase their recruitment intake as the economy has stabilised. In fact, recruitment is set to reach its highest point for more than a decade in 2015 and the median starting entry-level salary is set to rise to £30,000 ($65,360 AUD).
The growth of the digital age has seen an influx of new jobs in the IT sector, and it is clear that demand for IT professionals is surging. According to Adzuna online job listings, during February 2015, about 105,000 IT jobs were listed online, a rise of 6.5% from August 2014. Of those IT jobs, 13,000 of them required Java programming skills. Knowledge of Java programming has become the most valuable commodity in the IT job market, largely because interactive software – such software for apps, tablets and iPhones – usually requires basic Java programming. Computing graduates are able to earn £35,000 a year with only a year or two of experience in the IT industry. If you’re a foreign worker who has computer skills, make the most of them.
Construction & Trades
Britain is facing a construction skills shortage, from plumbers to builders, as well as surveyors and estimators. Building activity and new developments in the UK have risen dramatically in recent years and as a result, salaries for construction professionals have risen as much as 10%. The average salary of construction professionals has risen to £39,000 ($84,900 AUD) a year, a big improvement from £34,000 a year early in 2014. It is a big industry – the construction sector accounts for 6% of the British economy – so jobs for foreign workers are aplenty when the economy is in a boom. Advertised vacancies in the construction sector surged beyond 50,000 in March, compared to 39,000 in March 2014.
Healthcare and Nursing
Often in high demand in the UK due to the dense population, vacancies in healthcare, nursing and other medical professions are on the rise again. Check UK’s Government-approved shortage occupations list here to find out more about specific specialist healthcare positions that are in shortage in the UK right now. Recent health service information suggests that 20% of new nurses in British hospitals are foreign workers from places such as Spain and the Philippines. In terms of salary, senior healthcare jobs can earn up to £100,000 a year, but at the other end of the spectrum, entry-level nursing positions can start as low as £20,000 ($43,615 AUD).
The UK has a critical shortage of engineers, ranging from aerospace engineering, to transportation specialists, to simple bridge maintenance. This has been an ongoing problem in Britain for many years – for example, 90,000 engineering jobs were vacant according to Adzuna in February 2015, which is very high considering the specialist nature of the industry. The many years of study required to enter the engineering field makes this a difficult industry to enter for immigrants however the study load will definitely pay off in the end. Graduates can expect to earn up to a whopping £30,000 a year in entry-level positions, and the long run pay packages for senior engineers is much more rewarding.
Unemployment has been falling in Britain and recruitment is on the rise. This means there is a need for more HR professionals to handle increased job applications and recruit new workers. Human Resources jobs require a lot of interaction with people and you need to be confident in your English-speaking skills, but the industry is relatively easy to enter if you have some experience. The average salary is around £30,000/year but this can rise higher depending on your age and experience.
Accounting and Finance
Accounting is a useful skill for your long-term career prospects and a good skill for the general running of a business – however despite this there is a distinct shortage in Britain. Accountants are growing in demand across the UK, and firms are increasingly snapping up young, semi-qualified students to fill the vacancies. Accounting is stable employment and the industry doesn’t change rapidly, nor does it change due to economic downturns. Particular jobs in demand at the moment include entry-level accounting jobs as well as auditing and risk roles. From August 2014 to February 2015, job vacancies in the accounting and finance field rose by a massive 11%.
Marketing skills are increasingly important to business development and partners well with our booming technological age. The need for marketers in the UK has grown with the booming job market, and different marketing professionals are being hired for both practical technological skills, as well as for their knowledge of specific marketing strategies. There is a big shortage of high quality marketing professionals in the UK, largely because of the scarcity of experience in the digital marketing field – a field that until the last decade was not a strong theme in the economy. Marketing is flexible job, and marketing managers typically can earn around £45,000 a year. If you are a foreign worker and you have some skills with digital marketing tools, then finding a job in marketing should be relatively easy.
OrbitRemit offers a safe and secure way to transfer funds around the globe from your bank account to another bank account. Creating your account is fast and easy – create your account now. We guarantee all payments and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you.
- Posted by Sean on August 31, 2015 in Migration
Whatever your reasons for moving back to India, there are a number of things that you should consider doing prior to moving.
Just as you would carefully plan your move abroad, you should also plan your move back to India. While you will probably have familiarity with your home country, and a network of friends and family, there are still challenges to overcome. With this in mind, we have prepared a list of 9 helpful tips for moving back to India.
1. Plan your move early
It pays to plan out your move as early as you can. This includes considering your living situation, activities, job, community, and just about anything else you can think of. By planning early, you can make sure that the move goes well, and you can settle back into your home country easy. Planning early also gives you a chance to prepare financially before you start the repatriation process. Spending more money on freight services generally means that you will get a freight carrier that offers better quality and safety. You will also need to make sure that you have enough money to support yourself while you settle in.
2. Seek help if you need it
If you need help, be sure to seek it. There are many simple options available that help take some of the load off your shoulders. For example, if you are moving back home for health reasons, it pays to check your international health insurance coverage. Often repatriation services or medical evacuation services are included, and this will greatly reduce the costs of moving. There are also specialist companies that offer repatriation services. If you do decide to use one of these companies, check the credibility before signing into anything. While these services can be greatly beneficial, they can also complicate the moving process as well.
3. Ensure that you have the proper documentation
Something that a lot of people tend to overlook when moving back to India is the paperwork. A good idea is to prepare and keep important documents such as educational certificates, birth certificates, and licences. Ideally you have easy access to these, so that you can retrieve them when required. Another good idea is to keep these documents with you, as opposed to sending them with freight carriers. If your belongings do get lost while moving, you will still have these important documents safely stowed away. For additional peace of mind, you can take a scanned copy of important documents relating to your years as an expat as well. These might include immigration letters, company contracts, and tax information.
4. Don’t forget about services and utilities
Don’t forget about services and utilities in your current country of residence. Things such as electricity, phone plans, and visas all need to be disconnected. Sometimes it takes a while for these to be disconnected so be sure to take this into consideration. After you have done this, you need to thing about services and utilities in India. If you can set up accounts online, you smooth out the process and minimize the hassle for when you do arrive. Some things such as international health insurance shouldn’t be cancelled until the move is completed, so make sure you only cancel what you need to.
5. Make sure you have your finances in order
Moving assets and cash back to India can be difficult, however it doesn’t necessarily has to be that way. Money transfer services such as OrbitRemit provide a simple and easy way to transfer your wealth. All the tedious paperwork is taken care of, and all you need to do is specify how much you want to pay, and where to. If you do not have a bank account in India, you will need to open one, or remit money to a friend or family member that you trust.
6. Be accepting of change
To prepare yourself for culture shock when you return home, you need to acknowledge that things will have changed. Regardless of how long you have been away, things that you remember will be different. There may be different shops, road layouts, and facilities that were not there when you left. This is often amplified by your experiences abroad, so be sure to come with an open mind.
7. Prepare for different responses
People may not welcome you back how you expected. There is often a stigma associated with people who move away and come back at a later date. Some people may be negative and critical of your move back, however this will not last long. After a few weeks back in India, it will be like you never left in the first place.
8. Allow time to settle back in
An important phase in the repatriation process involves allowing time to settle back in. It pays to allow yourself a few weeks to get used to your new life before you start or look for work. This will ensure that you are not overwhelmed by your new surroundings. If you are repatriating with family, this is even more important. Children often take longer to adapt to new situations, so allowing this time is greatly advantageous. Try to establish a routine to ease them into the change.
9. Stay positive
Lastly, it is important to stay positive throughout the entire moving process. This helps with your own well-being, and helps make the transition easier. Embrace the change and you will begin to enjoy it.
- Posted by Sean on August 11, 2015 in Migration
Australia has always been an appealing destination for Indian immigrants, especially those who seek better career prospects. If you wish to migrate to Australia from India you need a visa, and Australia Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) manage these.
Recent years have seen a record number of Indians heading to Australia under various immigration programs. This is mainly due to the lack of skilled employees in Australia, in various a sectors. Individuals with knowledge and skills in such sectors can migrate to Australia from India in order to gain hand full of salaries and begin a new life
- Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
- Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)
- Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)
- Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa (subclass 401)
- Business Talent (Permanent) visa (subclass 132)
- Business Innovation & Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888)
The most popular out of these is generally the skilled immigration visa (subclass 189). These provide permanent resident status for overseas individuals. However, individuals need to meet and continue to meet certain requirements in order to migrate to Australia from India. An official list of different visas can be found at Australian Immigration, and this list is regularly updated.
Once you have your visa sorted, you can start planning your move. We have broken down the move into categories that are important to keep in mind when expatriating.
Finances: Plan your finances, making sure that you open an account in Australia. Once this is done you can easily transfer money with services such as OrbitRemit, which will be explained further on in more detail.
Tax: Plan you tax arrangements. You may have been filing tax returns in both India and in Australia. Make sure that the relevant Government departments know you are leaving, and arrange for an agent in India to help complete your tax return if needed.
Freight & Insurance: Choose freight company that has a good reputation. Generally the cheapest carrier is not necessarily the best. For further peace of mind, be sure to arrange freight insurance. The freight company will usually provide one included with their quote. Make an inventory of everything you are packing with approximate valuations and that the insurance covers all of this. If you have especially valuable possessions, it may be a good idea to make this known to the freight company, as sometimes insurance has limited cover.
Documentation: Keep key documents with you, with copies (or scanned electronic versions) emailed or store electronically and travelling separately from you. Have a folder of documents that include passport, proof of address, driver’s licence as well as a copy of your freight inventory. It is also good to have copies of birth certificates for all members of the family, and other documentation like school reports to hand.
Utilities and Services: Give notice to all utilities and services, and in the case of the former arrange for meter readings and final payment accounts to be sent to your new address.
Changes of Address and Mail: Get your changes of address done, and arrange for all your mail to be forwarded to your address in Australia. Setting this up for 6 or 12 months is a good idea.
Job Hunt: If you plan on working, it is important to secure employment before you return. However, it is recommended that you agree to a start date a while after you arrive. This allows time for you to settle in.
Schools: If you are travelling with your family, it is a good idea to organise a school in Australia in advance. Make sure you speak with the person who manages allocation of places. Understand how to gain admission, and keep in touch with the school. In some areas entrance to schools is somewhat complicated. Even if places are not immediately available, get on the waiting list and understand how many are ahead of you because things can change quickly.
Accommodation: Finding a place to live in advance of returning gives a lot of reassurance. And with the Internet, you can easily find places that suit your needs. You should consider renting for your first year back. This has many advantages, as you may find your plans change after having been back for a while and, in any case, it allows you time to find a home to purchase that is perfect for your needs.
Packing your bags: Make sure you have clothing that is appropriate for the climate in Australia. It is also a good idea to pack enough items to cover you while your freight arrives. This may mean considering the current season and the one after.
Once you move countries, you will need to move money back and forward between them. This may mean transferring money from India to Australia when you leave, and remitting money back home after you start work. Luckily, this is quick and easy with services such as OrbitRemit.
OrbitRemit has three main steps. Firstly, you create a payment instruction online. This just involves stating how much you want sent, and where to. Next, you need to transfer the money to the local OrbitRemit bank account. There is no charge for this as it is a domestic transfer.
Once this is cleared the payment is made to whom you specified. This happens in a short period of time, and in most cases payment is completed the next working day after funds have been received.
- Posted by Sean on August 6, 2015 in Travel
Where and how people travel has changed drastically over recent years. Due to travel becoming a lot more economical, destinations further abroad are becoming increasingly attractive. One of these destinations is India, which has seen a surge in tourist numbers as of late. Not only has travel become more accessible, but also the travel industry itself has seen revolutionary changes.
The integration of technology has meant that people can just log on to a website and instantly book holidays and travel experiences. This means that competition has intensified greatly, which can make it hard to find the best travel agencies for travelling to India. Fortunately we have compiled a list of the top travel agencies in India to help you decide.
Top Travel Agencies in India
Make My Trip
Make My Trip is one of the newer players in the travel industry. However, in a span of only 10 years, it has surpassed many travel agents to become one of the biggest in the world. Originally Make My Trip was started to allow quick and easy booking of flights, but they have now expanded into numerous other areas such as holiday packages, rental cars, and train tickets. A study in 2009 found that one out of every 12 domestic flights in India was booked using this company, so it is one of India’s most popular travel agencies.
Yatra.com is another popular Indian travel company. It is based and headquartered in Gurgoan, and was founded in 2006. It is unique in the fact that it provides detailed information on both the availability and pricing of flights and hotels. Other services such as buses, rental cars, and train tickets can also be booked using this company. Yatra.com states that over 20,000 domestic flight bookings are made through them every day, so this is another popular travel agency.
Cleartrip offers an easy and simple travel booking service that mainly operates through an online website, so cost savings can be passed on to consumers. One of the main drawcards Cleartrip has is the design of their website. It is very uncluttered and concise, and is free from unnecessary advertising. This makes booking flights, hotels and other services hassle-free. Cleartrip also has a strong network of travel partners, so there is a concise range to choose from when booking.
Thomas Cook has had a presence in India since 1881, so it is very well established. Today Thomas Cook has offices in 78 cities in India, as well as an online website. Worldwide, Thomas Cook employs over 19,000 people and has hundreds of offices. Travellers can book with confidence knowing that they are using a company that has a good reputation and understanding of the desired travel destination.
SOTC was initially started as an independent venture and in 1996, was acquired by Kuoni Travels. Whilst SOTC is renowned as being a specialist in Indian outbound travel, they also cater to domestic travellers. A wide variety of tour packages are offered, so it is worth investigating if that is what you are after.
Cox and Kings
Cox and Kings hold the prestigious title of being the world’s oldest travel agent. Its history can be traced to 1758, when Richard Cox founded it. Even though the company has been operating for more than 250 years, it still has a strong position in the travel industry. For people looking to travel to India, many interesting and exciting tour packages are offered. These include wildlife packages, cruise packages, and romantic retreats. They also offer packages for groups, as well as individuals.
Ezeego1 is specifically tailored for the needs of people travelling to India. It is an online website that provides numerous features, including the ability to pick packages and customise them to your hearts content. You can book air tickets, train tickets, buses, hotels, cabs or even group trips using the services of Ezeego.
Top Travels was founded in 1985, and has built itself a good reputation in the Indian travel scene. Top Travels specialises in organising customs trips and tour services. They are not limited to flights and hotels, and can book things such as luxury trains and cruises. An added advantage is that they have specialised departments for each type of travel. For example, if you are planning a corporate trip, you will deal with the corporate department.
Travelocity is international brand that serves the local needs of people through specialized programs. Recently, Travelocity has been rated as one of the best travel portals in the world. They do not focus particularly on one area of travel, instead they serve try to serve all types of travellers equally. Travelocity has a strong network of affiliates inside India, which ensures you will access to a wide range of attractions.
Expedia is one of the world’s leading travel companies. They operate localized websites for more than 20 countries, so chances are your country will have one. For people looking to travel to India, Expedia offers easy booking of flights and hotels, and offers combination tour packages. Expedia is almost unparalleled in the wide range of options it presents to travellers.
Click through to sending money to India to find out how OrbitRemit’s service can help you send money to India.
OrbitRemit offers a fast, secure and easy way to send money to people around the world. Sign up today and your first payment is FREE!
- Posted by Sean on July 24, 2015 in Exchanging Money Money Transfer Tips
Remitting money back to India can be expensive. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With simple tricks and tips, you can make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. Things such as knowing the jargon, using the most cost effective service, and timing your money transfer can make your money go a lot further. Keep reading for a simple explanation of why money transferred to India is subject to fluctuating exchange rates. Then be sure to read our list of easy tricks and tips that help maximise your money by taking advantage of India’s often-fluctuating exchange rate.
Why do exchange rates change?
Most international currencies change because they float. This means that the value of the currency relative to other currencies is set by supply and demand. This translates to traders of currencies around the world buying and selling each different currency. Whilst some countries government set a fixed exchange rate, most fluctuate. Foreign exchange is traded around the clock, all around the world. While the markets may be closed in India, other markets are still open. This means that trading activity really is 24/7. Because of this, foreign exchange rates can literally change minute by minute. For example, 2009 saw the Indian Rupee reach new highs against the United States Dollar. However, the same year also saw the Indian Rupee subsequently reach new lows. Depending on how much money you wish to transfer to India, the exchange rate changes have a varying effect. If for example, you are remitting a small amount, a change in the exchange rate may result in a slight difference. However, if you are remitting a large amount, a change in the exchange rate can mean a huge difference.
Know the jargon
Foreign exchange has its own unique jargon. It pays to learn some common terms so that you know exactly what you are getting into with foreign exchange. Some common terms include:
- Sell rate: This is what you get when you exchange your local currency for foreign currency
- Buy rate: This is what you get when you go the other way and exchange foreign currency for local currency
- Interbank rate: This is sometimes called the bank to bank to rate. This is the wholesale rate that banks exchange currency at between themselves.
By knowing these terms, you can be sure that you are signing up for exactly what you think you are. Some services such as OrbitRemit go one step further and calculate exactly what receivers of remittance get. This helps avoid confusion and further simplifies the remittance process.
Investigate the economy
Before sending money back home, it pays to do a bit of research. Adverse economic events weaken the country’s dollar, so the currency you send gets converted into more. Conversely, beneficial economic events strengthen the local dollar. This translates to currency not going as far. If you expect either adverse or beneficial events to occur, be sure to take this into consideration when remitting money to India.
Monitor exchange rates
Watch the daily “interbank” rates on your chosen currency so you know what makes a good exchange rate. Currency fluctuates constantly. This means that the price you get will normally never be the same from day to day.
Many things cause travel money to wobble, from employment figures to economic forecasts to interest rates, so watch currency movements and transfer when the rate is climbing.
Conversely, if you have money you wish to transfer back to local currency, do this when the rate is falling.
FXStreet is a good site to monitor exchange rates on, because a live display of rates is always shown.
Compare apples with apples
If you are shopping around on exchange rates, make sure that you always account for any additional transaction fees or commission as well as the foreign currency exchange rate at the time of transaction. This means that you are calculating the total cost of remitting your money. By comparing total costs of remittance, rather than just the rate, you can make sure that you are getting a good deal. While a deal or exchange rate might appear to be extremely attractive, it might not be competitive at all once you add in the extra fees or commissions.
Shop around and use the cheapest provider
Currency rates not only fluctuate from day to day, but they also fluctuate from company to company. While you might expect prices to be the same across the board, it is rarely the case. This means that is extremely important to shop round for the best deal before you remit money to India. Finding the cheapest provider can mean great savings, especially if you are remitting a substantial amount.
OrbitRemit offers the lowest rates for sending money back to India, at all times of the year. Unlike other services, your first remittance through OrbitRemit is free, giving you a chance to test out the service. For each remittance after that, there is a fixed flat fee. Other services commonly charge fees on a percentage basis, meaning that the more money you transfer, the more you pay. In terms of the exchange rate, OrbitRemit also offers one of the best exchange rates available on the market, again at all times of the year. This rate is better than what your local high street bank offers, meaning that more money gets to you where you want it to be.
- Posted by Tom on June 4, 2015 in Economic Market
Sri Lanka’s had its issues over the last thirty years or so. While GDP increased by 7% in 2014, the country still has some challenges it must overcome before it can develop sustainably. We’re going to take you through Sri Lanka’s biggest development stifling demons.
Post Civil War
Tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamil minority lead to a 26 year civil war in Sri Lanka that ended in 2009. Six years on, after 70,000 deaths, the economy is still hurting. Huge international concern arose about the fate of civilians caught in the conflict zone and war crimes.
While the end of the civil war has allowed tourism to return, things are not quite prosperous just yet and tensions still exist between the Tamil and Sinhalese. Many conflict affected areas, such as Jaffna (to the north) depend on wells for water. While is enough water to scrape minimum standards, there isn’t much more. Access to education is also limited, with particularly poor school facilities in rural areas. Education is a key to economic growth – it equips children with the skills to perform jobs that are used to grow the economy. The fact that these issues even exist suggest that Sri Lanka isn’t likely to maintain any stable economic growth until it meets the basic needs of its people.
As you could imagine, conflict has scared away tourists from Sri Lanka, however these are starting to return as the company recovers from the civil war. Tourism has hit an all-time high with approximately 1,500,000 tourist arrivals in 2014 alone. Tourism brings overseas money into the Sri Lankan economy and therefore contributes greatly to economic growth – putting Sri Lanka on track to improve its economic situation.
Sri Lanka is getting an economic boost through its working age population. However, the working age population is significantly larger than children and the elderly. The population is aging – which is okay for now, however by 2041, 25% of the population is predicted to be elderly. An aging population means less future economic growth (as workers will be retiring) and a large proportion of the population relying on government support (through pensions etc). While this is a difficult problem to combat, the government will need to combat this if Sri Lanka is to sustain its economic recovery after the civil war.
While Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, has sworn to defeat corruption, it is still a large strain on economic growth. In particular, property rights are difficult to enforce because of fraud. A lack of property rights stifle independent investment, as people no longer actually have claim of right to anything. This makes people reluctant to actually buy or create things – as there is a fear that they don’t have the legal right to actually keep what they’ve earned. Since people have little incentive to earn, economic growth slows down.
What makes this worse, is Sri Lanka’s lack of Judicial independence – meaning that the Sri Lankan government influences the local courts. This allows the government to use the courts as a puppet – making for an ineffective, corrupt dispute resolution system. What’s more is that the government isn’t transparent – they’re able to create new laws and push them through without the public seeing, or getting a chance to critique, what’s going on. Public servants and ministry officials are frequently bribed too, showing that government officials are failing to stick to the rules for personal gain.
Unfortunately, Sri Lanka suffers from weak whistle-blower protection – meaning that those who report corruption are given limited protection from the system to hide their identity and ensure their own personal safety. If Maithripala Sirisena is to reduce Sri Lanka’s corruption levels, offering protection and incentives to those with inside knowledge in exchange for information is a must.
A Lack of Media Freedom
Like them or loath them, the media is important when it comes to running a transparent country to conduct business in. A free and independent media open the government and businesses up to public scrutiny and criticism. The government is likely to act democratically and within the rules if it’ decisions are reported by the media. This keeps politicians and businesspeople accountable for their action, stifling corruption and keeping things democratic.
Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan media is still somewhat under fire. Reporters are often threatened at gunpoint and attacked in order to stop particular articles being published. Stories such as this one, where a printing press was doused with diesel before being set alight by gunmen are all too common: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/srilanka/10389519/Sri-Lankas-media-struggles-to-cope-with-death-threats-and-harassment.html
The newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, is reopening investigations surrounding murders and disappearance of journalists in recent years. This shows some acknowledgement of the gravity of harm facing the media, and may well lead to a more independent media in Sri Lanka in future.
While the war may be over, Sri Lanka still has a number of battles to fight before it can improve its future situation. If you’re looking to send money to Sri Lanka, OrbitRemit offers low cost, attractive exchange rate transfers between the LKR and many other currencies. Check out our calculator on the top right hand side of the screen to work out exactly how much will reach your destination!
- Posted by Paul on June 4, 2015 in Exchanging Money Travel
India is renowned as one of the world’s best places to travel to. The culture, people, and history all combine to provide something unique to travellers. Fortunately, you don’t need vast sums of money to experience India and all that is has to offer. Travel to India is relatively inexpensive compared to many destinations, but read below for ten India budget travel tips to make your money go even further.
1. A great idea to save money while travelling in India is to use online sites such as Agoda.com to book accommodation. These sites aggregate rates by price, so you can be sure to find accommodation that is in your price range and in the idea location. As a guide, hotel room’s range from $5 to $15 USD per night, however you can save even more by taking advantage of online discounts. In major cities you should be prepared to spend up to $25 USD per night for a room, however this is still relatively cheap by Western standards
2. Food can come at a substantial cost to travellers, but there are much cheaper options available to travellers in the know. The street food in India has a lot of variety, and is extremely inexpensive. Meals with two different curries, puffed bread, and soup can cost as little as 70 cents USD. This means that spending a little bit of extra time finding streets dedicated to food vendors can save you huge amounts. Not only is food from street vendors cheaper, but can also be safer as you can see exactly what is going into your meal. If eating out is your preference, some restaurants can provide meals for as little as $3 USD.
3. Be prepared to negotiate prices. It is important to bear in mind that every seller in India will try to extract all that they can out of you. This can mean that you end up paying much more than you need to for things. Haggling is prevalent in India and it is important that you learn the art of bargaining. Often sellers will try charge foreigners ten times the regular price of items, so there are large savings to be made. It is a good idea to only take the money with you that you are prepared to spend, and not any more. If you do need to take more, we recommend keeping it in a separate place such as a bag.
4. Prepare a daily budget prior to going. This will ensure that you are adequately prepared for travelling around, and this also makes sure you spend less money. A handy site is Numbeo.com, and this provides the price of many things in India. Once you have costed your daily expenditure, multiply this by the amount of days you plan on being away. This will give you the total amount of money you should take. It is a good idea to take a bit more than this in case anything unexpected happens.
5. Be careful with your money. India (like many countries) has many pickpocketers that prey on tourists, so it pays to be vigilant. Only take the money with you that you need for the day. Another good idea is to keep money in different places so that if something does happen, you have a back-up plan. Many rooms that you stay in will have safes that you can keep money. Other forms of currency such as travellers cheques and debit / credit cards can be useful, but may not be accepted at as many places.
6. Go to a doctor before you go. It pays to visit a doctor in your home country before travelling to India. This way you can get vaccinations and medicine in case you fall sick. Medical care can be expensive in India and can be costly, so this an excellent preventative measure. There is also the added bonus of not having your trip ruined by illness.
7. Travel during quiet times. If you choose to travel to India during peak times, you will have to pay a premium on many things such as flights and accommodation. Travelling in off-peak times can save you a lot of money, as there are many discounts and promotions available at this time. In general, the peak season in India runs from around October to March, so travelling outside of these times is considered off-peak. However, if you are heading to India’s mountainous regions, the busiest time is in the winter, so this is something else to consider.
8. Experience rural India. India’s big cities are becoming increasingly more expensive. An alternative worth considering is exploring rural India. Not only will this take you off the beaten path, but save you money. There are many organisations that operate in the rural tourism niche, and these include Grass Route Journeys, The Blueberry Trails, and Travel Another India.
9. Learn the local language. Learning the local language can help you befriend locals. You can understand their lifestyle and get inside information, which can help cut down expenses. To learn key phrases before you go, it is a good idea to read online guides and language tips.
10. Avoid tipping too much. Tipping is expected in India; however most places already include this charge as a ‘service charge’ in their bills. Be sure to check this before tipping to avoid tipping twice. As a general rule, you should not tip more than ten per cent of the total bill.