The Indian government has from April 1 eased visa regulations, allowing tourists coming into the country on e-visa to stay for up to two months instead one and double-entry benefits. Furthermore, the window for e-visa application is now extended from the earlier 30 days to 120 days.
As well, new medical and business categories are added to the e-visa facility, and are given triple- and double-entry benefits respectively.
Reactions to the relaxed regulations have been positive, as the trade has been demanding a more robust e-visa regime to enhance convenience for international tourists availing the facility.
Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels, said: “The earlier e-visa facility only allowed single entry, which was a bottleneck for tourists keen to combine their visits to India with neighbouring destinations. Though a multiple-entry e-visa would be ideal, at least a double-entry e-visa will allow us to suggest the facility to clients looking to visit neighbouring countries as well.”
While Lally Mathews, honorary secretary, Indian Association of Tour Operators, thinks it's too early to speculate if the new move will increase inbound arrivals, it is nevertheless beneficial that travellers can "now apply for an e-visa well in advance to make the most out of competitive airfares".
At present, e-visas are only available for nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports and three ports – Cochin, Goa and Mangalore. Authorities are looking to extend the e-visa facility at the ports of Mumbai and Chennai to promote cruise tourism.