Indian tourism ministry pushes for e-visas for business, medical travellers

The electronic visa facility to be extended to foreign nationals

The union tourism ministry of India is asking the electronic visa facility to be extended to foreign nationals arriving in India for business purposes and medical treatment as is being offered to general tourists. They said that it was being proposed as the response to the tourist scheme was great.

In a letter addressed to the home ministry, the tourism ministry stated that business and medical travellers to India ought to be allowed to arrive here with electronic travel authorisation, with a validity of 30 days.

A tourism ministry was quoted as telling the Telegraph that this move would facilitate relaxing of the visa regime for people wanting to visit this South Asian country for different purposes as well. The official added that they were encouraged by the success of the e-visa programme that is being offered at present to tourists from around 150 countries.

Launched in 2010, the e-visa scheme was initially made available to tourists arriving from five countries. It is now provided at 23 airports in India.

E-tourist visas should be applied for a minimum of four days before the tourists’ arrival date. Valid for only up to 30 days after arrival, an e-visa can be granted only twice a year.

According to a recent government report, 670,000 of the total 6,000,000 overseas visitors until September this year to India arrived with e-visas.

The tourism ministry reckons that the number of travellers coming on business, which is around 50,000 to 70,000 per year, would increase substantially if the e-visa facility is offered. They expect the same with medical tourists, whose number is approximately 150,000 per year.

Another tourism official said that following the discussions they had with the home ministry officials, they do not foresee any problems in getting this proposal cleared.

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