Delhi: India announced yesterday that it would extend visa-on-arrival facility to nationals of 180 countries. The proposal is to provide these visas to tourists from 180 instead of 51 countries as earlier proposed after collecting their biometrics in order to make India a more tourism friendly destination, Shukla said.
Most foreigners currently have to wait several weeks before learning whether they will be allowed to enter the country after submitting their applications at visa processing centres, a major deterrent for potential visitors. But as per the new grant,all that a tourist has to do is submit an application online and, within two to three days, a travel authorization will be mailed back. That slip of paper would be enough to enter India. This improvisation, sources said, was important to avoid clutter at the airport as well as facilitate easier back-end verification.
The visa-on-arrival facility will be initially offered at nine airports across India for a period of 30 days, then it will be extended to other airports as well. Initially, these facilities will be available at nine airports – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Bangalore.
Eight countries, which have been kept out, are Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.India currently offers visa-on-arrival to nationals of 11 countries, including the Philippines, Singapore and Japan.
India is among the top 25 largest international tourism earners, but lag behind considerably in comparison with neighbours like China and Singapore in the list of the world’s most visited places.