Govt to make visa-on-arrival simpler

Govt to make visa-on-arrival simpler

The Union Tourism Ministry is now keen on improving the visa-on-arrival facility by making it simple and its implementation fast after the scheme resulted in a 26 per cent growth in the arrival of foreign tourists in the country last year.

“Visa-on-arrival schemes have been there for some countries. We will try and make visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists simpler and faster,” Secretary of the Union Ministry Parvez Dewan said while inaugurating the South Asian Tourism and Travel Expo (SATTE) 2013 here on Wednesday.

He noted that foreign tourist entitled to avail the benefits of the scheme had to pay in rupee for processing of visa-on-arrival.  “We hope that they will, before the next SATTE, pay in dollars, or through a credit card. That’s one comfort we need to bring in. We hope by the next year, it will be done,” he said, citing some of steps the government would take to make the scheme simpler for inbound tourists.

To make the implementation of scheme fast, he said the Tourism Ministry was trying to reduce the time taken at visa counters in processing of procedures.  Efforts were also on to develop “major” metro cities of the country as tourism hubs which could serve as base camps for international tourists, he added.

As a facilitative measure to attract more foreign tourists to India, the government had launched visa-on-arrival scheme in January 2010 for citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, for tourism purposes.  The government extended the scheme later in January 2011 to the citizens of six more countries—Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar. A total number of 16,084 visas-on-arrival were issued to tourists coming from these countries in 2012, as compared to 12,761 in 2011. Under the scheme, the highest number of tourists (4,604) visited India from Japan in 2012, followed by New Zealand (3,150 tourists) and the Philippines (2,444).