24 January 2014

Visa-on-Arrival Scheme – Gaining Popularity with the Foreign Tourists

The Visa-on-Arrival (VOA) Scheme of the government has gained popularity with foreign tourists.  In the present year, a total of 10,482 VOAs have already been issued till July, 2013 which represents a growth of 37% over the corresponding period in the year 2012. The number of VOAs issued in the year 2012 exceeded 16,000 which was 26% more than the preceding year. 
            The salient features of the Scheme of Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) are:
·           The TVOA is allowed for a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility.

·           The TVOA is available to foreign nationals arriving from Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata Airports.  With effect from August 15, 2013 it has also been introduced at the Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram,Hyderabad and Bangalore airports.

·           The fee for the TVOA is US $ 60/- or equivalent amount in Indian rupees per passenger (including children).

·           The TVOA is allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year to a foreigner with a minimum gap of two months between each visit. TVOA is non-extendable and non-convertible.

·           Tourists from the above mentioned countries may also avail of TVOA for up to 30 days for medical treatment, for casual business or to visit friends/relatives, etc.

·           The TVOA facility is not applicable to the holders of Diplomatic/Official Passports.  Further, TVOA shall not be granted to the foreigners who have permanent residence or occupation in India. Such persons can visit India on normal visa, as applicable.

The “Visa on Arrival” (VoA) Scheme was initially launched by the Government in January 2010 for citizens of five countries, viz. Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, visiting India for tourism purposes. The Scheme was extended to the citizens of six more countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar in January 2011. The main objective of the VoA scheme was to facilitate measures to attract more foreign tourists to India.

Group Visas on arrival have also been allowed under the Scheme. Visa Manual has been amended to extend the collective landing permits facility with effect from 1st April 2013. 
The foreign tourists in groups of four or more arriving by air or sea and sponsored by Indian travel agencies approved by the Ministry of Tourism and with a pre-drawn itinerary will be granted Collective Landing Permit for a period not exceeding 60 days, with multiple entry facilities. 
In order to avail of this facility the tourists or travel agencies are required to mandatorily fill in an application online.
The provision of Collective Landing Permits has been made to encourage the foreign tourists to plan their travel to India at a short notice. Such a provision facilitates last minute travellers to plan a visit to India who hitherto were travelling to other destinations.
The Scheme is continuously monitored and the extension of the Tourist Visa on Arrival facility to the other countries and the airports within India is an on-going process based on various factors like market trends, security concerns etc.

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