In keeping with a long-standing demand of the Indian tourism industry, the tourism ministry is keenly pushing for an electronic visa or e-visa regime.
“There is a strong demand for a e-visa system by stakeholders in the tourism industry. After the present parliamentary session, I would be approaching the home and external affairs ministries to push and plan for an e-visa regime," said Subodhkant Sahay, Union tourism minister.
The approval for such a system will have to win the confidence of the two ministries for reasons of security and proper documentation of foreign visits. The e-visa issue had come up during the national tourism advisory council meet last week.
Sahay said his ministry is also working on a single-window clearance apparatus for foreign tourists. On the growing menace of touts who take tourists for a ride, the minister, declining to give details said something is being worked out.
The ministry is also in the process of identifying four tourist circuits besides two rural clusters in each state with the target of identifying 35 circuits by 2016 in the PPP mode.
The moves are being contemplated in the backdrop of a new aggressive tourism policy being envisaged which aims to increase India’s share in international tourist arrivals to 1% by the end of the 12th Plan which would require an annual growth of nearly 12%.
The tourism ministry has also launched a ‘Clean India’ campaign to improve quality of services and provide a hygienic environment in and around tourist destinations across the country.
“The success of the Clean India campaign is crucial to achieve the targeted growth in tourists arrivals during the 12th Plan," said Sahay at the Clean India campaign workshop.