THE Indian government has given the go-ahead for the introduction of visa-on-arrival (VOA) service at five more international airports – Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala, Goa, Hyderabad and Bengaluru – with a formal notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs expected this week.
The service will be available to citizens from 11 countries, namely Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.
The decision to extend VoA services beyond New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata’s international airports was made at the recent third inter-ministerial coordination committee on tourism.
“Preparations to implement the scheme at (Kerala’s airports) are currently underway. The new scheme and the convenience it offers will encourage more tourists to travel to Kerala,” said Anil Kumar, tourism minister for Kerala.
“Tourists planning to visit Kerala will no longer have to wait for issuance of visas by the respective Indian embassies or consulates. The numbers are definitely going to increase,” asserted Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels.
“If visa processes are simplified, we can expect many tourists from South-east Asia as these two airports are well-connected (to the region). We’ll look to see if the notification makes people of Indian origin holding other passports eligible for VoA, as this will further boost tourism to Kerala,” he added.