Sweeping changes in the winds for India visa

THE CURRENT 60-day re-entry gap imposed on multiple entry India visa holders may soon be a thing of the past, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on August 13.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is presently considering several options to rationalise the current visa regime, which is inhibitive for travellers to India. The Indian government is also planning to offer visa-on-arrival to 10 more countries.

The current re-entry restriction has been a bane for business travellers who have existing business interests or future investment plans in India, as frequent visits are impossible.

Amaresh Tiwari, A T Seasons & Vacations Travel managing director, said “a zero gap multiple entry visa would augment business travel immensely as an open visa regime would reflect the country’s openness to global investment and partnerships”.

Meanwhile, Chander Mansharamani, vice-chairman of the India Convention Promotion Bureau, told the Daily that the local MICE trade had successfully appealed to the government to institute a single-window clearance for conference attendees, and that the government would “announce the modalities shortly”.

Plan It! Meetings and Conferences associate vice president, Rajiv Pande, said having a single window for clearance would “change the scenario completely”.

“Foreign attendance will increase and business could double,” he added, noting that the number of international delegates per conference currently ranged from 10 to 200.

Once implemented, last-minute registrations by foreign participants can also be processed. Pande noted that visas were often hard to get for markets such as China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Sarab Jit Singh, managing director, Travelite (India), said: “Serious and drastic steps must be taken to remove the bottlenecks that are holding back the growth of India’s conventions industry. Permissions and approvals required for conference organisers must be simplified.”

Read more in TTG Show Daily – IT&CM India 2012

Additional reporting by: Grace Chiang

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