ABHISHEK CHAKRABORTY – Jaipur
Keeping in view the growing interest amongst foreign tourists to visit India, the ministry of tourism, Government of India, has proposed to expand the scope of Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) scheme to more airports in India. Presently, the scheme is only available at four airports across India – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. “We have proposed to the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of external affairs to extend the visa-on-arrival facility at more international airports in India, including Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which would cover tourists from about 15 more countries under its ambit,” said AK Gupta, additional director general (MR), ministry of tourism (MoT), Government of India.
It has also proposed to bring more countries under the ambit of the tourist visa-on-arrival, giving citizens across the world an easy access to India. Currently people from countries like Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines can get a tourist VoA in India.
The government witnessed a positive response to its VoA scheme since it was launched in 2012. According to the ministry of tourism, during January-May 2012, a total number of 5,857 VoAs were issued as compared to 5,004 VoAs during the corresponding period of 2011, registering a growth of 17 per cent. Foreign tourist arrivals saw a growth of 7.8 per cent in the same period with 28.05 lakh visitors. The ministry of tourism also said last year that the government was in the final stages of consultations on allowing visa-on-arrival to citizens of about 10 countries, including Germany, France and Russia.
Speaking about the growing significance of tourism across the world and the need to extend the visa-on-arrival for more countries, Bina Kak, tourism minister, Rajasthan said, “Tourism sector has become a key driver of national economies.” Kak, however, cautioned against any kind of complacency. “Addressing the tourists’ requirements of getting efficient and courteous services at a reasonable price should be our concern. The benchmark of success in this regard is that the guest who has been to the country once should want to repeat the experience soon.”