The electronic visa facility in India could double annual tourist arrivals to over 12 million in the next five years. The Government recently announced that Electronic Visa Authorizations (ETA) would be put in place by the end of 2014.
The move is part of a plan to boost tourism, which is expected to grow at 12% in the next one decade, down from the 16% the country registered over the last five years.
According to tourism ministry official ETA could push in-bound tourism by 10% in the first year itself. The facility which will be similar to the one which Sri Lanka Government uses is seen reducing the visa application process to about four days from about two weeks now. This move is expected to inject an additional 10% international tourists immediately after they are implemented within year one.
At six million, India’s annual tally of tourist arrivals is a fraction of what some nations receive. For instance 26.7 million visitors thronged Thailand in 2013. Currently India issues about 27000 visas on arrival to eight countries, including New Zealand Japan and Vietnam. It is suggested that Ministry should implement electronic visa scheme in three phases over three months in different cities or else it could lead to long queues and a lot of confusion.
If implemented in October, a visitor can apply for the Visa to India and a background check can be done online. Once cleared, a tourist can fly in and then pay fees at the airport. Currently India doesn’t have an oversupply of hotel rooms, but an undersupply of tourists. Two hurdles the visa scheme faces is standardising the visa application form and rationalisation of costs of the visa which in some cases is as high as Rs. 10000 per form.
But yes improved visa services could result in upto six million more international visitors.