India moves to ease Visa Restrictions, Visa-On-Arrival for 40 nations, soon

India is initiating the process to make it a more tourist friendly nation and is set to roll out the red carpet for foreign tourists. The government on Monday has decided to extend visa on arrival (VoA) facilities to 40 more countries. This procedure will work by facilitating visa on arrival for pensioners and those attending conferences and establishing an online application system for visas.

This decision will allow foreign tourists from 40 countries including the UK, the US, France, Brazil, Russia China and Germany, among others will avail visa on arrival when they reach Indian borders. The government is also looking to extend visa on arrival to senior foreign citizens from all countries. The government aims to cut down the time taken to give Visas to tourists.

Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said, “There has to be a change in mindset towards the way we treat foreign tourists. All representatives of government agreed on extending visa on arrival to 40 countries and initiating an online system as soon as possible.”

Since initiating the visa on arrival scheme will involve a huge amount of infrastructure and manpower, the ministries of tourism and home affairs are given the task to prepare a roadmap. The online application systems adopted by Sri Lanka is being closely reviewed by the government for the purpose.

A high level meeting summoned by the Planning Commission consisting of the ministries of external affairs, home and tourism, national security advisor, representatives from the PMO, Intelligence Bureau and Montek Singh Ahluwalia was able to reach to a consensus on this issue.

“There was broad consensus on simplifying online visa system, relaxing visa regime for all types of conferences and senior citizen foreign tourist or foreign pensioners,” Shukla said.

“We want to develop a world class visa regime. I am going to write to the home minister with the outcomes of the meeting aimed at liberalizing the visa regime,” Ahluwalia told TOI. “Tourism ministry was willing to share its budget with the home ministry so that more officers can be posted on immigration counters that could facilitate visa on arrival,” he added.

Reducing the number of categories of visas from the existing 16 to just 3- visitor, employment and business- has also been proposed in the meeting

Since Visa-On-Arrival facility is available only in few airports in the country, it has also been decided to avail visa on arrival facility to more airports that have a large flow of foreign tourists like Goa, Gaya, Chandigarh and Amritsar.

The realization that the tourism sector can act as a bridge in the current account deficit crisis that India is facing, is one of the major reasons for this step by the government. Sources suggest that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also had a discussion on the issue with top officials of tourism ministries suggesting relaxation of visa norms for more countries.

In 2012, India received 6.58 million foreign tourists, up 4.3% over the previous year. India’s foreign exchange earnings showed an increase of 7.1% in 2012 from tourists. The last few months, however, have seen a dollar-less growth.

One Response to India moves to ease Visa Restrictions, Visa-On-Arrival for 40 nations, soon

  1. Oshim Levi Ugochukwu says:

    Please I’m planning to visit an India friend in India but i don’t know all that am required to have before making the visit. Please, kindly furnish me with all the papers required before the visit and the cost of obtaining them. Thanks for your cooperation.

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