NEW DELHI: Riding high on the success of the e-tourist visa scheme, the Union tourism ministry plans to extend online visas to 36 countries including Iran, Italy, Egypt and Nigeria among others. According to sources, the proposal has been sent for approval to the ministry of home affairs. If accepted, 186 countries will now be able to access online visa to travel to India.
Among the countries that have been shortlisted are: Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Italy, Nigeria, Turkey, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Morocco. The online visa scheme that was launched in November 2013 has been steadily expanded and has become a popular alternative for tourists.
Tourism ministry data shows that during January-June 2016, a total of 4,71,909 tourists arrived on e-tourist visa as compared to 1,26,214 during January-June 2015, registering a growth of 273.9%. The high growth may be attributed to introduction of e-tourist visa for 150 countries in February 2016 as compared to 76 countries earlier, the ministry said.
A total of 36,982 tourists arrived in June 2016 as compared to 15,557 during the same period last year registering a growth of 137.7%.
A statement by the ministry said that the e-visa facility was most popular with the United States, that drew the maximum number of tourists (23.22%) followed by UK (14.16%), China (6.91%), Australia (5.59%) and France (4.10%) in May 2016.
New Delhi was the favourite port of arrival in June with 42.15% using the airport, followed by Mumbai airport which was used by 22.94% of the tourists. Others that followed were Bengaluru airport (9.95%), Chennai (9.80%), Hyderabad (3.76%), Kochi (3.52%), Kolkata (2.72%), Ahmedabad airport (1.16%), Tiruchirapalli airport (1.15%) and Thiruvananthapuram airport (1.08%).