In a bid to boost tourism and business, the Indian government has decided to extend the country’s visa-on-arrival scheme to tourist from 180 countries.
“We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October”, said Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla.
However, this scheme will not be available to nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia. However, no reasons were given for the same.
Currently, the visa-on-arrival is open to 11 countries like Japan, Singapore, Finland, etc (See chart below for ). The scheme was first launched in January 2010 for citizens of five countries namely, Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, and was later extended to six more countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar in January 2011.
According to Data from the Ministry of Tourism, there was a 26% jump in in VoAs to 20,294 during the period Jan-Dec from the year-ago period. Japan topped the list of countries followed by New Zealand.
The implementation of this facility is expected to save time and expense of foreign nationals as they would no longer need to visit visas for touring India, the minister added. It will also be availed in all 26 major domestic air-ports from where international flights ply, he added.