Tourism Ministry plans to introduce long-term visas for doubling tourist arrivals

The tourism ministry plans to accelerate India’s booming tourism sector by the introduction of long-term visas, which will increase the international tourist inflow significantly. The international tourist arrivals to India increased by 15.7 per cent in 2017 to top 10 million. The ministry also plans to ease travel restrictions in some areas, introduce more flights to trendy tourist destinations for boosting the international tourist arrivals.

The tourism ministry had already proposed for better air connectivity to places like Khajuraho, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad, Srinagar and Guwahati to the civil aviation ministry last week. The ministry of home affairs has already accepted tourism ministry’s request for reducing restrictions to international tourists in regions like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The tourism ministry is planning the same with Lakshadweep now.

“We already have multiple-entry visas. Now we want long-term visas like in the US and other countries, like 5- and 10-year visas, for which we will write to various ministries. Currently, the duration is 60 days. All these things add up to our target of doubling tourist inflow in three years. We should be getting 100 million tourists in 10 years. We can do it. In three years, we want to take the number to 20 million. We got $27 billion last year from foreign tourist arrivals. In 5-7 years we should be earning $100 billion,” said Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons.

indianThe minister said that the ministry have been proposing to curb the existing restrictions. People including foreigners should be allowed to travel freely. “We have asked for better connectivity for daily Air India flights to Khajuraho, better connectivity to Aurangabad for accessing Ajanta and Ellora, direct flights from Kolkata and Ahmedabad to Srinagar, international flights from Guwahati to South East Asian nations, and triangular flight options for Kochi, Goa and Jaipur, and more flights to get better access to Hampi and Varanasi. We are proposing now that subject to us getting more funds, we could underwrite some of the loss-making civil aviation sectors. The returns from underwriting these losses will have a huge multiplier effect in terms of more tourists coming in and occupancies in hotels,” added KJ Alphons.