India to introduce new visa rules for tourists
Posted on November 28, 2014
Tourists travelling to India from 43 countries including New Zealand will no longer have to queue at their local consulates to obtain visas after New Delhi announced a long-awaited easing of border controls.
Tourists from countries including the US, Brazil, Germany and Japan will now be able to apply online and then receive the green light within four days, before getting their visa at an airport on arrival.
Most foreigners currently have to wait several weeks before learning whether they will be allowed to enter India after submitting their applications at visa processing centres, a major deterrent for potential visitors.
“This scheme … is a dream come true for the entire tourism industry of India and is bound to positively impact the economy,” tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said in a statement.
“The government’s objective is to boost tourism and this scheme’s implementation will send out a clear message that India is serious about making travel to the country easy.”
Plans for the overhaul were announced by the previous left-leaning Congress government which was thrown from office at elections in May.
The minister said the scheme would eventually be expanded from the list of 43 countries that also includes Australia, Russia, Singapore and South Korea. Britain, India’s former colonial master, is not included on the new list.
Under the old scheme, citizens of 12 countries were eligible for a visa on arrival.
Despite its cultural attractions, beaches and mountains, India attracts relatively few holidaymakers – 6.58 million in 2012, a fraction of those who go to popular Asian destinations like Malaysia and Thailand.
India came 65 out of 140 countries in a World Economic Forum ranking on travel and tourism competitiveness conducted in 2013.