The list of 43 countries in the first phase of tourist-visa-on-arrival, enabled by electronic travel authorisation (ETA), will be announced on Thursday.
The countries for which this facility can be extended include Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Israel, Mauritius, the Czech Republic, Oman, Argentina, and Kazakhstan.
Currently, India gives visa-on-arrival to travellers from Finland, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Luxembourg, Japan, and New Zealand.
Subsequently, all 180 countries that host India’s diplomatic missions, apart from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, will be included in the list.
The proposal for the e-visa, allowing entry of foreign tourists without a physical visa, had been announced by the previous government earlier this year.
The ETA portal has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The portal has been undergoing trial runs and sorting out glitches for over two months, said an official overseeing the launch. The software has also been integrated with the 43 Indian embassies to validate the e-visa forms of potential Indian visitors.
The ministries of home affairs, tourism and external affairs and the Intelligence Bureau have deliberated on the e-visa matter. The infrastructure support, in terms of personnel deployed, comes from the ministry of home affairs through the bureau of immigration.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced in July that e-visas would be issued at nine Indian airports.
About 40 countries account for 90 per cent of foreign tourist arrivals in India. There were 5.8 million foreign tourists during January-October, a growth of seven per cent on 5.4 million a year ago.