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India planning visa on arrival for tourists

Tourism Minister Ambika Soni says visa on arrival would be "one sure way" for facilitating tourist arrivals in the country.

world Updated: Apr 05, 2008 22:56 IST

With the the aim of increasing tourist arrivals, India plans to introduce visa on arrival facility for foreigners, Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said in Singapore on Saturday.

The proposal, if endorsed by the Home Ministry, can be implemented with regard to certain select countries on pilot basis, she told reporters after inaugurating the incredibleindia@60 cultural extravangaza.

"One of our thrust areas is to get visa on arrival but there have been concerns. We feel the Home Ministry could introduce it on a trial basis," Soni said.

Soni said visa on arrival was "one sure way" for facilitating tourist arrivals into the country and expressed confidence that the government would implement the scheme once the work on major airports was done.

"It can be introduced to visitors from some countries to begin with," Soni said adding that her ministry was also pushing for permits to visit North East. "We can access many areas which could not be done earlier," she added.

Elaborating her "vision plan" for the future, Soni said 20 destinations have been identified in way of a pilot project which she felt would greatly help state goverments.

She said these included a trail followed by the British from Calcutta to Varanasi along with wildlife and river trails.

Noting that the tourist arrivals touched five million last year, Soni said in India's case it was not just in numbers that it was competing.