India has passed two initiatives, the Visa-on-arrival facility and the Electronic travel authorization (ETA), in a significant step towards liberalizing the visa system.
India currently offers the visa-on-arrival facility to citizens from only 9 countries, including Japan, Finland and the Philippines. The extension to this program will allow citizens from 180 countries to use this service. The decision, aimed at boosting India’s tourism sector, was taken at a meeting convened by the Planning commission and included representatives of the PMO, ministries of home affairs and tourism sector. Planning Minister Rajiv Shukla believes this move will provide a “major boost to the countries Tourism sector.”
The decision was also taken to extend the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system to citizens of the same 180 countries. ETA will allow foreign travelers to apply from home, receiving an online confirmation within 5 days. With both systems on a single entry, the traveler will have 30 days from the day of entry into India.
Both the VoA and ETA facilities will be launched in 9 airports to start with, and it is believed the systems will be in place by the end of 2014.