New Delhi: Decks are being cleared to make India a more tourist friendly destination by extending on arrival visa for 40 more countries, simplifying online visa and attracting senior citizen foreign visitors.
The decision taken in the meeting of the panel to ease tourist visa norms earlier this month at Yojana Bhavan has been sent to the Tourism and Home Ministries for administrative action by the Planning Commission.
"Now Home Ministry Will take necessary action. It is an administrative decision which will soon see light of the day," Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla told.
According to the Minister, besides increasing the ambit of Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) facility, the panel has decided to allow visa under TVoA category to delegates visiting India for meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
At present, visa is issued to delegates on the basis of report about the credentials of the conference organisers. Moreover there is a separate category of visa for delegates of such events.
Shukla further said that it has also been decided to simplify and standardise the visa application form and photograph for the same.
Moreover, the column for disclosing religion in the visa application form is proposed to be deleted.
The panel has also called for initiating Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility to all countries except the ones in Priority Reference (PR) list.
The Minister said that India will also take initiatives to facilitate tourists or couples whose age is 60 years or above from all countries except PR list (nations) to tap the pensioners market.
The panel was unanimous that the issue of TVoA and ETA facility to China may be taken up bilaterally and decided on the basis of reciprocity.
The countries for which visa on arrival facility would be extended include the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Italy, Swedan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Ireland.
Under TVoA system, India has agreement with 11 countries - Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and Myanmar.
At present, the TVoA facility on arrival visa facility is available at international airports of Delhi, Chennai, Kochi Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram. The panel has also decided to expand this faclity to other airports.