Visa-on-arrival To 180 Countries

Putting to rest the reservations of the ministries of home affairs and external affairs, India allowed visa-on-arrival facility for tourists from 180 countries, including US, UK, China, UAE and Bangladesh. The move is expected to give a major boost to tourism in the country.
However, tourists from eight “prior reference” countries – Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Sri Lanka – will continue to apply for visa through embassy.
Till now visa-on-arrival facility was available to tourists from only 12 countries that included Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.
Under the liberalised visa regime, which is likely to kick in from September this year, tourists from these countries can apply online for electronic travel authorisation at least three days prior to their date of identification to get the visa, which will be valid for 30 days and would not be renewed. The facility will be available on 26 airports across the country.
“This is a major breakthrough for tourism as we have now extended the visa-on-arrival facility for 180 countries as against the initial proposal of adding just 40 countries,” said minister of state for planning Rajeev Shukla, adding that all concerned ministries are now on board to liberalise the visa regime.
It is estimated that the tourism industry can generate $42.8 billion by 2017, a 42% surge from 2007.
Planning Commission had called a meeting in October last year to address the reservations of the concerned ministries on the issue. While the Ministry of Home Affairs was opposing the move citing security reasons, Ministry of External Affairs wanted the identified countries to reciprocate similarly for Indian tourists.
Reproduced: The Economic Times

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