India as one of the oldest civilizations receives numerous tourists throughout the year. Over the years, the number of tourists has increased greatly, thanks to the convenient e-visa system and innumerable things that tourists can see and engage in.
According to data from the Ministry of Tourism in 2008/2009, the primary reason that foreigners travel to India is to visit with family and friends. Additionally, religious reasons for pilgrims and medical purposes for patients also make a great percentage of Indian e-Tourist Visa. That said, the government of India can still do more to increase the number of foreigners. They can improve on the e-visa system and integrate dynamism to suit most of the visitors.
One way of making India more tourist-friendly is by increasing the validity of the e-visa to longer periods like 10 years as stated by Niti Aayog, RBI governor. Read on to gain deeper insights into the current state of tourism in India and how increasing the validity of the e-visa will make India a preferred tourism destination.
Figures do not lie and below we find important information to allow you to grasp how India is at the moment.
1. Tourism has grown significantly in India within the last seventeen years.
Fig 1. Source – Ministry of Tourism (India)
2. Primary Reasons why foreign tourists come to India – the primary reason is for social reasons. as shown in the figure below.
Source: National Sample Survey office 2008/09
3. The introduction of the e-visa for tourists increased the number of tourists with about 636.6% according to the report given by KPMG India. That shows an increase in foreign currency and a great boost in the economic development of India.
4. Revenue Generated from Tourism. It is evident that there has been a positive growth and increase in the revenue generated.Source: Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
From the statistics shown above, it is clear that the tourism sector in India is impacting the national development in significant ways. As such, any government initiative should target making India a better place to visit.
As we speak, there are 5 types of online visas for foreign visitors accessing India from the 28 airports or 5 seaports.Indian e-Medical visa
This is a travel authorization given to patients of 166 countries who want to seek medical treatment in one of the state of art health facilities in India. The patient is required to have a formal letter with a letterhead from the particular government-licensed health facility.
The Indian e-Medical visa has three entries per year and 60 days validity and you can get this visa three times within a calendar year. The whole process is online and you will get the travel approval letter on your email.
This is an electronic visa given to a person traveling to India to accompany a patient. One patient can have a maximum of two attendants who must be blood relatives.
You can get the e-visa for medical attendance three times a year and you can stay 60 days. Also, with this visa, you have three entries from January through December of the same year.
This electronic travel authorization is given to delegates attending seminars or workshops held in India that are of national or international importance. The Indian government through its various departments, NGOs, the UN or any other government recognized institution can organize for the conferences.
The e-visa for the conference has a validity of 30 days, and a single entry in the course of the year.
The Indian government has brought some changes that have boosted the tourism sector. Two major developments this year is the increased validity of the e-business and e-tourism visa.Indian e-Business visa
Previously, the e-Business visa had a validity of 60 days and two entries in one year. However, now it has changed to the validity of 365 days and multiple entries in the course of the year. As long as you reside from those eligible countries, with the business e-visa, you are allowed up to 180 days of consecutive stay without a need for any further registration.Indian e-Tourist visa
When it comes to the e-tourist visa, the increased validity to 365 days and multiple entries will see more individuals visit India. With the new development, individuals from eligible countries besides the US, the UK, Japan, and Canada have up to 90 days of continuous stay without the need for registration. For these four countries, their nationals are allowed up to 180 days of continuous stay. This change was from the 60 days validity.
Moreover, another recent development surrounds the inclusion of two more airports to serve foreigners that is Port Blair and Bhubaneswar making the number of allowed airports to be 28.
Foreigners who fall ill in India can now receive medical treatment without needing to convert their visa into e-medical visa. This provision is to take care of the foreigners when emergencies emerge and make India a human-focused tourist destination. The nationals of Korea have also become part of the visa on arrival. With the effort and cooperation between the ministry of home affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, better deals are yet to come.
The idea to increase the validity to ten years is not a far-fetched utopian idea. Rather, it is a path other countries have used and reaped significant economic outcomes.
The increased validity also will come with regime changes in the online visas to suit more people. For example, currently, the medical visa has a validity of 60 days and three entries per year. These periods are sometimes limited for individuals who seek medical attention and need post-operative care. This short duration and few entries not only inconvenience the patients but also increases their expenditure. Also, a change would also encompass increasing the number of medical attendants from the current
2. Two people staying with the patient, sometimes with a lifelong condition can be overwhelming. However, with more people to bear the emotional burden of the illness, it can be so much better for the family and the patient. Countries like Malaysia have increased the number of medical attendants and thus increased medical tourists and enhanced the recovery process of the patients.
Increasing the validity of Indian e-Business Visa, conference and tourism e-visas will increase the number of foreigners traveling to India. The reason is, increased efficiency and ample time to achieve innumerable things in India will make people choose that option. For example, a person can travel to Indi, establish a business and see it progress quite a bit before the expiration of the e-visa. That is encouraging for investors. In the long run, it will create employment and place India in the world as an incredible investment hub.
To make India more tourist-friendly, will also include creating awareness of the existence of the e-visa with incredible provisions and efficient visa application process. This will include targeting the right clientele for the different visas. Creating incentives that encourage the target population to apply for the visa. Involvement and participation in international affairs will place India at the limelight.
It is clear that since the launch of the electronic visa in 2014 the Indian government has done a lot in improving the services and increasing the number of eligible countries from the initial 46 to 166. The online process with proper guidelines also allows people to apply for the e-visa at the comfort of their house.
However, a few bottlenecks still exist that need to be addressed to make India more tourist-focused. For example, increasing the validity of the e-visas to 10 years and having multiple entries would enhance the foreigners’ convenience not to mention its cost-effectiveness. Also, the reality of treatment dynamics should see an increase in the number of medical attendants as well as the continuous stay of medical tourists.
Finally, a global outlook to the matter and inclusion of different stakeholders will see India sustainably increase the number of foreigners visiting the nation for diverse reasons. In the long run, that investment will bear enviable fruits.