India has started granting visa on arrival to South Korean nationals, a move that is expected to boost inflow of tourists and business visitors, officials said Sunday.
Like the Japanese nationals, the facility to South Korean citizens include double entry visit for a period not exceeding 60 days for business, tourism, conference and medical purposes for entry through six designated international airports -- Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
According to an estimate, around 2 lakh Indian visas are issued to South Korean nationals every year, of which 80 per cent are tourists. On an average, 600 South Korean nationals arrive in Delhi daily.
Though visa-on-arrival facility was earlier offered to citizens of 12 countries -- Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea -- it was discontinued in November 2014 after the launch of e-Tourist Visa scheme.
The facility of e-Tourist Visa now covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online visa within 72 hours for travel related to tourism, business, health, medical and conference purposes.
The number of visas issued through e-Visa system is now approximately 40 per cent of the total number of visas and the figure is soon expected to cross the 50 per cent mark, which is an indication of its popularity.
The number of foreigners who visited India with e-visa has gone up from 447,000 in 2015 to 1.7 million in 2017. The figure for 2018 is 1.87 million till October 31 this year and it may touch two million mark by the end of the year, a Home Ministry official said.
The e-visa facility now covers practically all the countries of the world, 166 as of now, and foreigners can arrive at any of the designated 26 airports and five seaports in India without interacting with any official before checking in at the immigration counter.
Under the e-visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it has been approved.
The tourist can travel with a printout of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then allow entry into the country.