More foreign tourists opting for Indian e-visa
The e-visa scheme was launched in November 2014 with 43 countries. Till November 2015, this facility has been given to citizens of 113 countries.Updated: Dec 26, 2018 23:32 IST
Foreign tourists are increasingly taking the e-visa route to come to India after the Narendra Modi government opened the online visa facility to 166 countries in the last four years.
The e-visa scheme was launched in November 2014 with 43 countries. Till November 2015, this facility has been given to citizens of 113 countries.
According to official figures a total of 20,61,511 (a little over two million) tourists arrived on e-visa from January to November this year as compared to 14,56,615 (1.4 million) in the corresponding period last year, registering a growth of 41.5% .
The Indian e-visa is available in five categories, tourist, business, medical, conference and medical attendant.
The UK, US, France, China and Russia remain the top five countries in terms of e-visas granted. In 2017, these five countries alone accounted for 46% of e-visa granted. Till November 2018, tourists from these countries have 41.8% share in e-visas.
Worldwide, many countries have switched over to e-visa to facilitate a hassle-free entry. While it provides a faster and easier way for the tourists to access visa for their preferred destinations, it also helps the embassies as they don’t have to deal directly with thousands of tourists seeking visa.
Part of the increase is because embassies have been pushing visitors to opt for e-visas.”
Immigration officers have been proactive and there have been instances when the e-visas have been cleared after the arrival of the tourist at the airport,” said Director General of the tourism ministry, Satyajit Rajan.
Union Tourism minister K J Alphons said that his ministry is working to further increase the number of e-visas granted.
“We have suggested that the visa form be made multilingual and simplified. The visa period should be 5-10 years and there should be a provision of multiple entries. Besides, there should be fee-free period during the lean season extending from April to September. I am confident that if these suggestions are implemented the e-visa number will jump even more substantially.”
Travel industry experts admit that while the e-visa has started yielding results, some challenges are yet to be addressed.
“I would say this has been the most important step that the government has taken after the Incredible India campaign. The e-visa fees should not be more than 25 dollars. Besides, we need to enhance the technology so that it can handle higher loads,” said Dipak Deva, Managing Director Travel Corporation (India) TCI-SITA.
The current e-visa fee is 0 to 100 dollars depending on the nationality of the applicant.
In his first budget speech in 2014, finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said : “The facility of Electronic Travel Authorisation (e-Visa) would be introduced in a phased manner at nine airports in India where necessary infrastructure would be put in place within the next six months. The countries to which the Electronic Travel authorisation facility would be extended would be identified in a phased manner. This would further facilitate the visa on arrival facility.”
First Published: Dec 26, 2018 23:32 IST