180 Nations, 26 Airports, 30 Days
If you are a foreigner traveling to India, those are the numbers to remember. In a bold move to boost in-bound tourism, the Indian government is expanding its visa-on-arrival program again. After announcing, just last year, that 40 nations (including the U.S.) would be eligible for a tourist visa at an Indian airport, now this service is being extended to all nations except the following eight: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Earlier, only 11 countries had India’s visa-on-arrival privilege.
India needs more foreign tourists. The growth rate has fallen in recent years, with the actual number remaining pitiful for a country so large. In 2012, India had just 6.58 million in-bound tourists. While there was a 4.3 percent increase that year, the growth in 2011 had been 9.2 percent. The downward trend continued last year with a 4.1 percent rise, leaving India at a disadvantage if it wants to reach its target of 12.6 million foreign tourists by 2016.
So how does visa-on-arrival work? Despite the name, it’s important to remember that an electronic visa is required before departing for India. When the program is up and running, most likely by October this year, travelers will be able to pay and apply online to get their e-tourist visa, which will be good for 30 days from the date of arrival in India, where the passport will be stamped. And yes, eventually, you’ll be able get this service at 26 airports across India.
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