Govt's big push to attract tourists: One-month e-visa at flexible charges

The government will introduce one-month e-visa and make charges flexible, with fee for summer months — non-peak months for tourism — kept less than the rest of the year.

Leisure tourists will be charged $10 for a 30-day e-visa for travel between April and June, and $25 for any other month, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel announced on Tuesday. Currently, India charges $80-100 for one-year e-visa for tourists from most countries.

India attracted 10.5 million overseas tourists in 2018, far fewer than some of the other Asian countries. Singapore received 18.5 million tourists while Thailand welcomed over 38 million foreign visitors last year.

High visa charges is one reason that makes India less attractive to tourists and so the fee is being reduced to increase footfalls and foreign exchange receipts.

For e-visas of one- and five-year durations, citizens of Japan, Singapore and Sri Lanka will be charged $25 while those from other countries will get those at $40 and $80, respectively.

The decision to introduce one-month e-visa for tourists with a flexible fee structure was taken at a recent meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office. It was also decided to extend the validity of e-visa from current one year to five years. A formal order on the new charges will be issued upon approval from the external affairs ministry.

April-June is considered a lean time for foreign tourist arrivals, and in 2017 around half of all arrivals were between January and March, and July and September. 

December is the peak month for arrivals from all major source markets including Bangladesh, the US and the UK.

“Countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand have been successful in attracting Indian tourists because of free visas. The government’s decision now signals that India too welcomes tourists,” said Rajeev Kohli, former vice-president of Indian Association of Tour Operators.

“It is a fantastic step. With this move India should be able to double its tourist arrivals in next two-three years. The move also benefits standalone destinations like Goa. India has always been a desired destination for foreign tourists but high visa charges made trips to India expensive,” said Dipak Deva, managing director of TCI, Thomas Cook's inbound travel division.

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