In a move aimed at boosting tourist arrivals, the government has decided to allow group visas on arrival for foreign tourists.
A formal announcement is expected on Wednesday. Foreign tourists in groups of four or more arriving by air or sea would be granted the group visas on arrival, officially referred to as collective landing permit.
The collective landing permit would be applicable to all countries except a select few countries such as Pakistan and Iran. The initiative follows tourism minister K Chiranjeevi's meeting with home minister Sushilkumar Shinde recently to push for a more liberal visa regime to encourage tourism.
To avail this facility, foreign tourists sponsored by approved travel agents would have to apply online and send this information to immigration offices at the port of entry 72 hours in advance.
They can enter India from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkatta, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Calicut, Goa and Lucknow under this scheme.
Government sources said the foreign tourists would be allowed multiple entry visits to enable them to travel to neighbouring countries.
The tourists - or the travel agencies if their services are being used - will have to give an undertaking to conduct the group as per the itinerary and not permit any individual to drop out from the group at any place.