In line with its promise of increasing the list of countries to be included for Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), 43 countries were officially announced by the NDA-government here in New Delhi today. Also referred to as e-visa, it facilitates the entry of foreign tourists without a physical visa into the country within 96 hours of submission of application. It had been announced by the UPA–II government earlier this year and now has been formally executed by the current NDA government.
The list of countries announced in the first phase are Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Papua and New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, South Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam, Vanuatu.
Apart from eight countries - Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, all 180 countries, which host India’s diplomatic mission, will be eventually included in the list in phases.
Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion of the launch, Home Minister Rajnath Singh lauded the combined intra-governmental efforts of Ministries of Home Affairs (MHA), Tourism (MoT) and External Affairs (MEA). The ETA portal has been developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
“This is a great step and when it comes to tapping India’s vast tourism potential, the sky is the limit.,” – he said.
Former tourism secretary Parvez Dewan who oversaw the e-visa narrative unfolding for both the previous and the current government thanked Rajiv Shukla, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Sujata Singh for their support in easing the visa regime for India.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced back in July that e-visas would be issued at nine Indian airports.
About 90% of foreign tourist arrivals to India are accounted for by 40 countries of the world. Foreign tourists during the period of January-October 2014 were 5.8 million, showing a growth of seven% compared to 5.4 million during the same period last year.