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India extends visa-on-arrival to 180 countries

Article from Time of India, 6th February

 NEW DELHI: On Wednesday 5th, Indian Government clarified the situation around what is already considered as significant progress concerning visas in India. Actually, visa-on-arrival and electronic travel authorizations will be delivered to countries barring "prior reference" by removing these mentions. Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and China are affected by this implementation, among others.

This new measure will give foreigners the possibility to apply for a visa from their own country and to receive confirmation by e-mail in 5 working days.
"We have decided to extend visa-on-arrival for 180 countries. The infrastructure should be ready by 5 to 6 months. We hope our project will be achieved by the beginning of the next touristic season, by the beginning of October," told us Rajiv Shukla, the Planning Minister.

At the beginning, 9 airports will be concerned by this measure.


The measure concerning the expansion of visa-on-arrival and electronic travel authorizations for 180 new countries will be applied initially in these 9 airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum. Both facilities should be effective by the end of the year.

India already allows visa-on-arrival to 11 countries such as Finland, Philippines, Singapore and Japan. This important decision was taken during a meeting to which representatives from the Prime Minister, Ministries of Home Affairs, External Affairs and Tourism attended.

Electronic travel authorizations will be available for a 30-day period, beginning on the arrival of the tourist in India; meanwhile, visa-on-arrival will concern the same period of time but for only one entry on the Indian territory.

This measure, which is supposed to boost the tourism sector, does not need to be approved by the Cabinet, said Minister Shukla, adding that the Home Affairs Ministry will confirm it in due course.
"This installation will bring a new dynamism to our country's tourism sector. This is historic," said Minister Shukla.

A separate website will be set up for the expansion of touristic visa for foreigners wishing to visit India. To get a visa, tourists would have to apply on the mentioned website, required fees included. Then they will receive an electronic version of their visa within three days.

Times of India's view

This newspaper has always been supporting the fact that getting a visa-on-arrival should be the norm and not the exception. For geographical, historical and cultural reasons, India is in the best place to become one of the most favored tourist's destinations. But its potential has not been tapped enough and given the sector's positive spin-offs on salaries and employment, we just can't go on this way. Each and every action we can undertake to attract tourists in India is worth trying. Visa-on-arrival in one thing, but it is far from being the only one. The Government must improve touristic infrastructures bringing tourists a greater sense of security, especially to women.

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