UAE, Saudi Arabia, UK, US, Australia among states given easier access to tourism hub
Passport holders of 40 countries and all senior citizens will soon be able to get an Indian tourist visa on arrival as part of the country’s plan to attract more visitors.
India also will simplify the online visa process for those who still need to apply in advance.
The countries that will be given access to a visa on arrival include the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Ireland.
About 11 countries already have this access.
Under the visa on arrival system, India has agreement with different countries, including Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.
On-arrival visa facilities also will be made available at more airports, including Goa, Gaya, Chandigarh and Amritsar, which have large flows of foreign tourists.
A timeline for the new processes has not been set.
An estimated 7m tourists visit the Asian nation each year, and tourism generates more than $121bn or 6.4 percent of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
However, the country has been rocked by an increase in gang rapes and its economy has plummeted in recent months.
India’s current account deficit widened to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product – up 0.9 percent – during the first quarter of 2013.
The value of the rupee against the US dollar also has fallen significantly in recent months to just 16 cents.
“All officials, including the national security adviser, were of the view that India should do this as it would help in garnering more foreign exchange when government is battling the problem of a burgeoning current account deficit, as it would help in earning foreign exchange,” planning minister Rajeev Shukla was quoted by local media as saying.
“There was broad consensus on simplifying online visa system, relaxing visa regime for all types of conferences and senior citizen foreign tourist or foreign pensioners.”