New Delhi, Feb 6: Taking a much appreciated move, Indian officials decided to extend visa-on arrival to tourists of all nations, as it looks to boost tourism. Rajeev Shukla, the Planning Minister, on Wednesday, Feb 5 informed that only eight countries will not be allowed to apply for the same.
According to sources, the eight countries are -- Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia. The minister, however, refused to give any details of reason(s) for which the nationals of above mentioned countries will be barred from this facility.
Speaking about their move, Shukla was quoted as saying, "We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October."
We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October
India currently offers visa-on-arrival to tourists from 11 countries like Finland, the Philippines, Singapore and Japan.
Following a high-level meeting with representatives from various ministries, he said the electronic visa would be valid for 30 days from the date of the tourist's arrival in India.
The move, aimed at boosting country's tourism sector, would not need Cabinet's nod, Shukla said, adding that Home Ministry would notify the same at an appropriate time.
"The facility will provide a major boost to the country's tourism sector. This is historic," Shukla said.
A separate website would be set up for extending the facility to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists.
To get visa, they would need to apply in the designated website along the required fees. They would be granted an electronic version of the visa within three days.
"Visa-on-arrival can be availed in all 26 major domestic airports from where international flights ply," the minister said.
Wednesday's meeting, at the behest of Planning Commission, was called to iron out the objections raised by the Home Ministry for extending the facility to nationals of 40 more countries including the US, the UK and Germany.
Home Ministry nod was a prerequisite for extending the facility.
The visa-on-arrival facility would save time and expenses of the foreign nationals as they would no longer need to visit Indian missions to get visas for touring India, Shukla said.
Asked whether these countries would reciprocate the same to Indian nationals, he said, "India needs these tourists. They may not."
Apart from creating the necessary infrastructure for the facility to be extended, this would also create over 1,000 jobs, he said.
(With agency inputs)