THE Indian government is looking to extend e-visa facilities to citizens of 36 more countries including Italy, Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Morocco.
India’s ministry of tourism has sent a proposal to the ministry of home affairs and it is likely to be cleared before the beginning of the October inbound season, said an informed source.
Launched in November 2014, the e-visa scheme is at present available for citizens of 150 countries.
“(This) is a definite boost for the tourism industry as it makes travelling to India more convenient, less time consuming and hassle free. It is another positive move from the government that is clearly seeking to make tourism one of the key drivers of economic growth in the country,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
However, some tour operators said that there is a need to improve the scheme first before extending it to more countries.
Subhash Goyal, chairman, STIC Travel Group, said: “There is a need to allow multiple entry on e-visas so that tourists looking to visit neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka can come back to India.”
A total of 36,982 tourists arrived in June using e-visas compared to 15,557 in June the previous year, a growth of 137 per cent.