By Beatrice Thomas
The move to boost tourist numbers means all GCC states are now covered
Passport holders from all GCC states will now be able to get an Indian tourist visa on arrival after the government extended the scheme to 180 countries.
Under new rules expected to take effect later this year, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have been included in the suite of new countries added to the scheme.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia were amongst 40 countries already announced for visa on arrivals in October, along with the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Ireland.
However, eight countries - Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia - have been excluded from the list after being categorised as “sensitive” for security reasons, it was reported.
About 11 countries already have visa-on-arrival access, including Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.
However, in expanding the scheme India hopes to add to the estimated 7 million tourists that visit the Asian nation each year, generating more than $121bn or 6.4 percent of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The model likely to be put in place will do away with the need to visit an Indian mission but will require tourists to make an online application before their departure, local media reported.
However, once in India, tourists will have to undergo a biometric identification to receive the 30-day visa. The facility will be available at 26 airports.
“It is a major move and we hope it will boost tourism in a big way. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning in October," India’s Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla was quoted by media as saying.
Indian officials said implementation hinged on boosting infrastructure and staff at immigration counters across airports.
“The government hopes to have these resources in place by September so that the new system can be rolled out in time for the tourist season," Indian government officials said.
Wise & Great decision ...!
Although this is a welcome development; however along with this will come growing pains. This will bring about a rise in criminal and sexual tourism which has already plagued India. GCC citizens have been involved in numerous such cases in India and have either been locked up in prison there or have absconded fleeing from due process criminal prosecution to their respective home countries
What? Sri Lanka and Pakistan not included?
Stupid decision. Why should Gulf citizens be given visa on arrival? About time the Gulf did the same for Indian citizens, especially those who have served these countries all their lives!
FIRST PAKISTAN ALSO MUST BEGINN...
Well, there's the small matter of there only being about 25M GCC citizens in total, most of who are either medium or high wealth households, versus 1.2Billion Indians, many of whom are poor. Overall, which do you think holds the larger risk vis-Ã -vis uncontrolled population movement?
Every national government will make decisions that they deem to be in the best interests of the country as a whole, and this may not coincide with the wishes of every individual citizen.
Visa on arrival is mainly for the host countries benefits, as it encourages business and tourism...something India desperately needs with recent events of safety for women.
India such a big country but gets only 7million foreign tourist per year. Compare that with Dubai, a city, getting 10million+ foreign visitors every year.
so india just went from one of the most difficult places to visit and get a visa to the most open !
i dont think this is a good move for india, but that's their problem.
very good, after all our diffulculties to get our VISA for our holiday in India this year we decided
this was our last holiday here. with the new rulle we Will come back
why U.S.A is included in this programme? INDIA should pen through that country from this list. As we know, india is not under US VWP. SO ,why ? and after devyani khobragade incident-- govt of india should not provide these facilities for that semi-facist country.