India will provide visa on arrival (VoA) to visitors from 150 countries -- a sharp rise from the 43 countries now, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced Saturday.
"Last year VoA was issued to 43 countries. As tourism in the country has increased, I propose to increase the countries covered under this to 150," Jaitley said while presenting the Union Budget 2015-16 proposals in the Lok Sabha.
The government had eased Indian tourism visa regime through the expansion of VoA enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) and extended this facility to tourists from countries like the US, Israel, Palestine and Japan to boost tourism sector.
This hassle-free process has given a fillip to Indian tourism whose share in world tourism is a paltry 0.6% of international tourist arrivals compared to 7.8% in France and 6.4% in the US.
In the month of January, a total of 25,023 tourists arrived by availing VoA as compared to 1,903 last year, registering a growth of whooping 1,214.9%.
The ministry in a recent statement mentioned that this "high growth is due to introduction of ETA enabled VoA for 43 countries".
This facility allows entry of tourists into India within 30 days from the date of approval of ETA and is valid for 30 days stay from the date of arrival.
The tourists are allowed to enter and depart from nine international airports - Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.