Taking another step forward to make India more alluring to foreign tourists, Indian government has announced visa-on-arrival facility to 180 countries, upping the number from just 11! The eight countries that have been kept out from the loop are Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
With liberalisation of visa process in mind, the announcement couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Year 2012 saw 6.57 million foreign tourists coming to India, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2011. While the figures for 2013 are yet to to see an exact number, this new initiative has set the tone right for the current year.
Apart from the visa-on-arrival facility, Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) will also allow foreign tourists to apply for a visa online. What has come across as a happy surprise is the fact that ETA has put just five working days for the online confirmation. The government has also announced to put the required infrastructure in place in 5-6 months, aiming for an October implementation of the said announcements. A website would be set up for the same, and once live, foreign nationals can apply for an online version of their visa via ETA.
Visa-on-arrival will be initially available at nine airports, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum. While this new move is hailed by the whole of tourism industry, here’s hoping that it’s extended to more countries to put India as a major force on the global tourism map.
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