India to relax visa regime, Visa on Arrival to be launched before year-end

  • Aloke Tikku, None, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 25, 2014 21:45 IST

The Modi government is likely to start rolling out Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility for tourists from over three dozen countries including the USA & UK by this year-end, a move aimed at helping double tourist arrivals over the next three years.

Government sources said the home ministry would be ready with the necessary arrangements within the next two months and the facility could be extended to all countries in phases.

A formal decision on the countries which would be granted the facility is yet to be taken. But sources suggest the US and UK could be covered in the first phase.

Foreign tourist arrivals from these two countries accounted for a fourth of the 6.9 lakh annual foreign tourist arrivals in the country.

It is speculated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could make the announcement during his US visit.

The first push for the VoA scheme had come during the Manmohan Singh regime last October. But the initial enthusiasm fizzled out and the files started going around in circles when the home ministry asked for over 400 more immigration officers.

The change of guard at the centre helped breathe life back into the plan.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi putting his weight behind the initiative to cut the red-tape in tourism too, the Cabinet quickly cleared the home ministry proposal in early July.

Government sources told HT that the additional manpower at the Bureau of Immigration would be deployed at additional counters of the nine international airports.

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