ACQUIESCING to a long-standing demand of the country's travel trade, India's government is likely to introduce transit visas within the next four to five months, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Tourism.
Revealed earlier this week, the ministry has proposed the creation of 48-72 hour visas to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is expected to introduce it soon.
The scheme will initially be implemented in New Delhi and Mumbai to encourage short stopovers, with Agra and Goa as quick getaway options due to their proximity.
The transit visa comes after poorer inbound growth in 2012, recording just 5.4 per cent compared to 2011’s 11 per cent.
India hopes to repeat Dubai’s success in capturing tourists for short two- to three-day stopovers, where transit visas are easily available.
Said Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators: “Transit visas will allow us to tap the large number of transit passengers who fly through India to neighbouring destinations (such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan) for both business and leisure. The (new visa) can certainly help add big numbers to our inbound visitors.”
Andrew Sydney, director, Josco Travels, said: “Many European and American carriers bring travellers to major Indian airports on longhaul flights before they board shorter connections to destinations in South Asia.
“To convert a transit into a short break would be attractive to the traveller as it would be a referesher between long flights and the continuation of a gruelling business schedule. This will be a win-win situation for all concerned.”