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Electronic visa software for airports almost ready

India gets less than seven million tourists a year and is ranked 41st in inbound tourism, according to data by the United Nations World Tourism Organization

Ruchika Chitravanshi  |  New Delhi 

The Union government plans to roll out (ETA) across nine airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Goa. The National Informatics Centre is giving the finishing touch to the software to make the process available online.

ETA is expected to boost inbound and create jobs in the sector. It would enable a foreign traveller to get an e-online within five days of applying, according to the plan. The document will have to be produced at Indian airports for entry into the country.

The decision on ETA was taken in February by the earlier United Progressive Alliance government.

Under the scheme, tourists will only have to a fill a form and pay the prescribed fee, after which they will be issued ETA within three days. Upon arrival in India, a simple biometric identification will be done at the airport. To extend the stay beyond 30 days, tourists will have to get another from the embassy.

The ETA scheme would be implemented by the home ministry with assistance from and external affairs ministries. To process the visa and travel authorisation, 561 personnel are needed to man the counters at the airports.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech on July 10, "The countries to which the facility would be extended would be identified in a phased way. This would further facilitate the visa on arrival facility." The required infrastructure would be in place in six months, the minister had said.

India gets less than seven million foreign tourists a year and is ranked 41st in inbound tourism, according to data by the Organization. In three to five years, India wants inbound tourists to reach 12 million.

The tourism sector feels the next step should be to reduce the visa fee to $20, improve air connectivity and open the Indian skies.

First Published: Thu, July 24 2014. 00:42 IST