Tourists can Relax as India Eases Visa Regulations

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MUMBAI – Tourists traveling to India will now find their trips going much smoother.  India has announced that it plans to ease visa requirements for up to 180 countries.  The changes are expected to soon be officially approved by the country’s Planning Commission.

Currently, citizens from many countries, such as the U.S. and the U.K., have had to wait in line at local embassies or consulates to apply for a visa.  After the application, tourists then had to wait for several weeks before being granted a visa to India.

Under the proposed changes to the process, applicants will be able to apply for their visas online.  They will then receive an email authorization in two to three days. A printout of the email authorization is all that is needed to enter India.  Once in India, tourists can pick up their actual visa in the airport they arrive in.

Only a few countries, such as Pakistan, will not be able to avail themselves of this new system due to security concerns.

“We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It till take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October,” Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said.

While India is ostensibly an attractive tourist destination, in 2012, only 6.58 million tourists visited. This number is significantly less than the number of tourists who visited countries like Thailand and Malaysia.  It is hoped by Indian officials that this loosening of the country’s visa regulations will boost the number of tourists coming into the country.

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