India’s Ministry of Tourism will be rolling out a flexible e-tourist visa regime for over 160 countries based on peak and lean tourist seasons, as part of the government’s push to attract more travellers to the country.
Under the new regime, the e-visa fee with a validity of 30 days will be US$25 during the peak season of July to March, and US$10 during the lean period of April to June. This is a steep drop from the current e-visa fee of about US$80 to US$100.
Additionally, tourists can fork out US$40 for a one-year e-visa or US$80 for an e-visa with a five-year validity.
“We expect that the plan will help to draw more international tourists to India,” said India’s tourism minister Prahlad Patel at the recent National Conference of Tourism Ministers in New Delhi.
Tourism stakeholders in India have hailed the move, claiming that the current high e-visa fee has stymied the growth of inbound tourism, especially in the face of stiff competition with neighbouring markets.
Ravi Gosain, managing director, Erco Travels, called the new e-visa regime “great news” for India’s tourism sector which has been experiencing turbulence. “The industry has been demanding this for a long time because we were not well-placed within Asian destinations when it comes to the visa fee. Our overseas tour operator partners have been complaining about the high e-visa fees. But now, they will be happy and push tours to India,” he said.
Sanjeev Nayar, general manager, WelcomHeritage Group, said: “The government has been making efforts to boost inbound tourism by announcing measures like the (ongoing) development of 17 iconic sites. The new e-visa fee structure would help increase India’s attractiveness as an international tourist destination. We are hopeful that if the government continues to support the industry like this, we will be able to achieve our target of 20 million international tourist arrivals very soon.”
Dipak Deva, managing director, Travel Corporation India, said that the new e-visa free structure would most benefit the country’s beach destinations and also attract more visitors during the low season. “(The revised e-visa fees) will directly impact the number of inbound leisure tourist arrivals in India. Most tourists travel to India for less than 30 days,” he said.
He added: “The biggest beneficiary will be beach destinations like Goa which tourists visit for 10-day long holidays. Goa has to compete with markets like Sri Lanka and Turkey because of the price competitiveness. None of our competitors, be it Thailand or Vietnam, charges an e-visa fee of US$100. Also, the lean period visa fee of US$10 would help generate demand in a month like April when there are Easter holidays in Europe.”