India visa-on-arrival scheme to be extended

Foreign tourists in Delhi The scheme is an attempt to boost tourism and the new visa will be valid for 30 days from arrival

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India's government has decided to extend the country's limited visa-on-arrival scheme to tourists from 180 countries. in an attempt to boost tourism and business.

The only exceptions to the scheme will be nationals from eight countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The government plans to implement the scheme from October.

India currently offers visa-on-arrival to tourists from only 11 countries, including Finland, Singapore and Japan.

Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi said the move would encourage visitors to India.

"This is a very good step. The visa-on-arrival for 180 countries will definitely boost the foreign tourist arrivals in the country," he said.

Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said he expected the rollout to be completed by the autumn.

"It will take five to six months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October," he said.

He said the electronic visa-on-arrival would be available at 26 major airports in India and would be valid for 30 days from the date of the tourist's arrival in India.

The government plans to set up a website enabling tourists to apply for the visa and pay the fee.

The visa would then be available for collection on arrival at any airport after three days.

Mr Shukla did not give any reasons for why nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia were not included in the scheme.

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