UK, Canada, Malaysia, France and China to be included in the expanded scheme.
IANS India will provide e-tourist visas (eTV) – formerly know as visa-on-arrival (VoA) – to visitors from 150 countries, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced Saturday. The decision forms part of the Indian government’s budget for 2015-16, and follows the launch of the VoA scheme for 43 countries in late November 2014.
“Last year VoA was issued to 43 countries. As tourism in the country has increased, I propose to increase the countries covered under this to 150,” Jaitley said while presenting the budget in the Lok Sabha.
Under the system, tourists are able to apply for a visa online, without having to visit an Indian embassy or consulate. Once approved, the applicant will receive an email authorising entry to India. This notification is to be presented to immigration authorities at one of nine Indian airports (Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram), allowing the visitor to obtain a visa-on-arrival.
India’s Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma, welcomed the decision to expand the scheme and congratulated India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, for presenting a “balanced, far-sighted and growth-oriented budget.”
“The revenue from the tourism sector can be utilised for the development of the country. Tourism in India is a very important source of foreign exchange earnings and has high labour intensity,” Dr Sharma stated further.
The initial list of 43 countries included several key source markets for India, such as the US, Australia, Russia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Palestine and the majority of Southeast Asian countries. Some notable omissions from the previous list, including the UK, Canada, Malaysia, France and China, will be included in the expanded scheme. (List of countries: indianvisaonline.gov.in) Following the progressive expansion of the initiative, only a handful of countries will NOT be eligible for VoA, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan.
Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, India’s government is placing a significant focus on tourism, with the stated aim of receiving 1% of global international tourism arrivals. Last year, India welcomed 7.5 million overseas tourists, which is still a paltry 0.6 percent of international tourist arrivals compared to 7.8 percent in France and 6.4 percent in the US.
In the month of January, a total of 25,023 tourists arrived by availing VoA as compared to 1,903 last year, registering a growth of a whooping 1,214.9 percent. The ministry in a recent statement mentioned that this “high growth is due to introduction of ETA enabled VoA for 43 countries.”
This facility allows entry of tourists into India within 30 days from the date of approval of ETA and is valid for 30 days stay from the date of arrival.
Travel Daily India – India expands visa-on-arrival scheme to 150 countries
Deccan Herald – Visa on arrival now for 150 countries
IBN – Union Budget 2015: Visa on arrival now for 150 countries