Tourist visa on arrival will be available for 40 more countries counting the US, the UK, Brazil, Germany, Canada and Australia. It would soon be a reality as the home ministry is accepted to clear the plan soon. Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said, “The suggestion to allow on-arrival tourist visa to citizens of 40 more countries will be a reality soon as the Home Ministry is expected to give its clearance soon,”
The minister also stated “Home Ministry’s clearance would be last and final approval required for this proposal as it has already been approved by other ministries and departments like External Affairs, Tourism and Prime Minister’s Office”. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Swedan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Ireland are the countries for which visa on entrance facility would be extended.
India has mutual contract with different countries, including Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar under the visa on arrival scheme. The Planning Commission had started the procedure for building India a more tourist friendly destination last year which comprises simplifying online visa and attracting senior citizen foreign visitors.
In a meeting convened by the Commission in October, as well its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, Tourism Secretary Parvez Dewan, Additional Home Secretary and representatives from the Intelligence Bureau and the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office), among others, had briefly discussed the issue.
During the meeting, all officials, counting National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, were of the perception that India should expand visa on arrival service for these 40 countries as it would help in garnering more foreign exchange.Foreign tourist arrivals in the country in 2013 saw an increase of about 4.1 per cent as compared to 2012 according to Tourism Ministry data.
68.48 lakh (provisional) tourists visited India compared to 65.78 lakh in 2012. In 2012 during the entire 2013, the figure of foreign tourists visited India augmented by 4.3 per cent over the previous year.
Tourism fee in 2013 made India earn $18.133 billion and registered a growth of 2.2 per cent compared to $17.737 billion with escalation of 7.1 per cent in 2012 over 2011. “Domestic tourism continues to be the main contributor to the sector providing much needed resilience.” the ministry stated.