In what is likely to be a major boost to the tourism industry, the central government on Thursday extended the facility of Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to 43 countries.
The list includes both Israel and Palestine, as well as Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Brazil, with whom India is trying to forge economic and diplomatic ties.
Also referred to as e-visa, it will allow foreign tourists to enter the country without a physical visa, within 96 hours of applying for one.
The preceding UPA government had planned to promised to extend the e-visa facility earlier this year.
Launching the facility at a mega function in the capital, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh praised the combined efforts of ministries of Home Affairs, Tourism and External Affairs. The ETA portal has been developed by National Informatics Centre. Minister of state for tourism Mahesh Sharma was also present.
Apart from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, all the 180 countries which host India's diplomatic mission, will be eventually included in the e-visa list.
"When it comes to tapping India's vast tourism potential, the sky is the limit. With India's economic potential on the rise, India's geographical diversity and culture need to be tapped and showcased to the world," said Singh.
"The earlier visa-on-arrival facility was available for a few countries," he added. Former tourism secretary Parvez Dewan, who has overseen the e-visa initiative from the beginning under both the previous and the current governments, listed out the ways in which the visa regime had been eased.