E-visa boosts flow of tourists to ‘Incredible India’


E-visa has done wonders for Incredible India – over 445,000 foreign tourists visited this mind-bogglingly diverse country on electronic visas, which was launched in November 2014. The UK topped the list, followed by the US and Russia.

Buoyed by the success of the e-visa initiative, the Indian government has decided to extend the e-TV (electronic tourist visas) to 150 countries by March 2016. There are also plans to extend this scheme from the current period of 30 days to 180 days.

The total number of foreign tourists who visited India in 2015 stand at over seven million. Currently, those coming on e-visas is only a small fraction of this number, but going by enthusiastic response, this number is set to increase dramatically in months to come. The number of visas issued online increased by 1,040 percent.

The reformed e-TV, which allows multiple visits, is set to enhance tourist flows to the world’s most populous country which boasts a dazzling variety of attractions but get only 7 million tourists. By comparison, a single museum in France – the iconic Louvre – gets more visitors every year. Thailand gets at least three times more foreign tourists.

 A comparative study show that since the inception of this initiative, searches for the destinations in India from January 2015 to October 2015 for the travel period between December 24, 2015 and January 3, 2016 have increased sharply, compared to the same period in 2014.

The e-TV scheme was initially launched in November 2014 for 43 countries, including nations such as Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Palestine, UAE and the US. Citizens of these countries have the option of directly applying for Indian visa online, without going through the hassle of visiting the embassy. Furthermore, the applications are processed within three working days, making the whole process effective and efficient.

 On tourism front, things are finally looking up for India. India has moved up the ladder from the 65th to the 52nd rank in the Tourism and Travel Competitive Index, according to the World Economic Forum Report. The increase in the number of visas issued has only been witnessed online.

 There are other plans to make e-visa package more attractive for potential tourists. Tourists arriving in India on e-TV, said reliable sources, could soon start receiving a ‘gift kit’ from the government, comprising a prepaid SIM card (which needs to be recharged in India), maps, booklets and a CD with information about tourist attractions, dos and don’ts, and emergency contacts.

Earlier, tourists acquired the visa-on- arrival, which was leading to the denial of lot of applications due to the lack of documentation. As a solution to the complaints, the e-visa portal was launched for the convenience of travellers from foreign countries.

Figures show that the largest number of tourists came from the UK, amounting to 23.81 percent, followed by US tourists at 19.5 percent. There were significant amount of people also from Australia (5.44 percent), Germany (4.86 percent), France (4.44 percent), China (3.10 percent) and the Republic of Korea (1.83 percent).

 (Rubaina Sangha contributed inputs for this article)



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