India: Liberalization of visa rules will be a priority
PANAJI, India - Liberalization of visa rules will be the tourism ministry's priority, Union tourism minister Shripad Naik said on Friday.
PANAJI, India – Liberalization of visa rules will be the tourism ministry’s priority, Union tourism minister Shripad Naik said on Friday.
He said that the tourism ministry is pushing for the issuance of electronic visas to the Union home ministry and the Union external affairs ministry.
India presently offers visa on arrival to nationals of around 12 countries but the Union tourism ministry wants e-visa facilities to cover a larger number of countries.
“If we liberalize the visa system for foreign tourists it will help boost the tourism industry in the country. We have made the proposal of issuing e-visas for foreign tourists,” Naik said.
Union tourism joint secretary Anand Kumar said the e-visa issue has been discussed between the Union tourism, home and external affairs ministries.
He said the tourism ministry is looking at a system where visa applications received will be considered immediately and the travel authorization sent directly by email to the traveller who will receive it at his home.
Naik also said his ministry will propose a reduction in visa fees as due to high Indian visa fees, people travel to other countries and many neighboring countries attract more tourists than India. “We will discuss this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi so that more tourists can visit India,” Naik said.
The new tourism minister also spoke of the increase in attacks on tourists across the country. “There is concern regarding tourist safety in India. I will call a meeting of chief ministers and state home ministers to discuss this and will ask states to be more vigilant on tourist safety,” Naik said.
Naik said there is a lot to be done in the tourism sector across the country but there is always a constraint of funds. “I am hopeful of a larger budgetary allocation to the tourism ministry as the Prime Minister has laid more emphasis on tourism,” he said, and added that the tourism ministry would always be open for advice from the public to improve tourism in the country.
He said the ministry will focus on rural tourism, agro tourism and wellness tourism, and that there are plans to provide each state between 50 crore to 100 crore to set up agro-tourism projects in every state.