NEW DELHI: India will extend visa-on arrival to tourists from 180 countries .
“We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October,” Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said .
India currently offers visa-on-arrival to tourists from 11 countries like Finland, the Philippines, Singapore and Japan.
This facility is now being extended to 180 countries. The only exception to this rule will be nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, he said without giving reasons.
Following a high-level meeting with representatives from various ministries, he said the electronic visa would be valid for 30 days from the date of the tourist’s arrival in India.
The move, aimed at boosting country’s tourism sector, would not need Cabinet’s nod, Shukla said, adding that Home Ministry would notify the same at an appropriate time.”The facility will provide a major boost to the country’s tourism sector. This is historic,” Shukla said.
According to PTI reports , a separate website would be set up for extending the facility to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists.To get visa, they would need to apply in the designated website along the required fees. They would be granted an electronic version of the visa within three days.
“Visa-on-arrival can be availed in all 26 major domestic airports from where international flights ply,” he said.
Meanwhile , Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in January, 2014 was 7.20 lakh which was 6.99 lakh in January, 2013 with a growth of 3.0%. Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism in Rupees terms in January, 2014 were Rs.11,197 crore in comparison to Rs.10,465 crore in January, 2013 according to Press Information Bureau of India.
FEEs in US$ terms during the month of January 2014 were US$1.805 billion as compared to FEEs of US$1.925 billion during the month of January 2013 and US$ 1.681 billion in January 2012.
Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of the FTAs data at major ports and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India, PIB reports.