Over 1000% growth! Whoa! Sounds unbelievable! But it's true that the number of foreign tourists coming to India on e-tourist visas has jumped by over 1000% in 2015.
These numbers are evidence to the success story of e-Tourist Visas in India. Ever since the launch of the e-visa facility by the Indian government, there has been no looking back and the Ministry of Tourism has been continuously recording a sharp increase in tourists' number visiting India. Are e-tourist visas/visa-on-arrival attracting more tourists to India? See, the numbers bespeak its bemusing success story!
With the launch of the e-tourist visas, the dynamics of tourism in India have changed drastically. It has emerged as a game-changer by bringing up new growth equations in the tourism arena.
According to a Press Information Bureau (PIB) report, a total of 445,300 tourists visited India on e-tourist visas during January-December 2015 as compared to 39,046 during January-December 2014. This was a phenomenal growth of 1040.4% in tourists' number entering India on e-visas.
The month of December 2015 had 1,03,617 tourists visiting India on e-tourist visas as compared to 14,083 during December 2014, recording a growth of 635.8%.
In January 2016, 88,162 tourists arrived in India on e-tourist visa as compared to 25,023 during the same month last year, registering a growth of 252.3%.
Similarly, in February 2016, a total of 1,17, 210 tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 24,985 during February 2015, registering a growth of 369.1 per cent.
UK stood on top to avail the e-tourist visa facility to visit India, followed by the USA, Russia, Australia and Germany. The New Delhi Airport grabbed the maximum share of tourists arriving and leaving the country on e-tourist visas in 2015, followed by the Mumbai Airport and the Goa Airport.
It was on November 27, 2014 when the Indian Government had introduced the TVoA, enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), presently known as e-Tourist Visa scheme.
At initial stage, the ETA enabled TVoA scheme was limited to 43 countries, however, later, it was extended to 113 countries, enabling a large number of international tourists to take advantage of the facility. Recently, 37 more countries were added to the list to take the final number to 150.
Presently, the tourist travelling to India with an e-visa is allowed to enter and depart from 16 international airports in the country. However, at the time of launch of the facility, it was limited to 9 international airports in 9 cities of the country.
The e-tourist visa fee structure has also been revised with effect from 3rd November, 2015. The 113 countries that can avail the e-tourist visa facilities have been divided into four groups where each group has to pay a different rate. Even the bank charges are reduced now for the e-tourist visa fees.
These initiatives have helped to increase the number of tourists travelling to India.
The new system has really made things easier for tourists! While they can apply for a visa online without having to visit the Indian embassy, they will can also receive an email authorising them to travel to India when their visa application gets approved. This notification can then be presented to immigration authorities at one of 16 Indian airports, allowing the visitor to obtain a visa-on-arrival. The ETA remains valid for 30 days from the date of approval.
It will be valid for entry at the following 16 airports: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, and Varanasi.
Looking at the spectacular rise in tourist numbers, it seems that eTourist Visa would help tourism in India attain newer heights.
As more people become net-savvy, there is a high possibility that the number of tourists visiting India with e-visas will grow many times in the coming years. Also the government has permitted to issue an E-Tourist Visa twice in a calendar year increasing the possibility of attaining higher foreign tourists’ number.
So let’s keep the fingers crossed and wait and watch to see the ETA scheme smashing old records by registering higher growth in the number of foreign travellers visiting India!
The countries eligible for an E-Tourist Visa!
Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Island, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Russia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Turks and Caicos Island, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Author Bio: Archana Sharma is freelance writer who is passionate about her profession. Travelling is something which excites her. She has been in the creative field for over 15 years and has been writing for print media and digital media.