Tourists from 43 countries, including the U.S., Germany, and Japan, are now able to get visas on their arrival in India.
The Electronic Travel Authorisation e-visa facility was implemented late last year, in an attempt to entice more tourists to visit the country. India received approximately seven million tourists in 2013, a far cry from Thailand’s 25.7 million foreign visitors and Malaysia’s 25.7 million international tourist arrivals. Reports of crimes and attacks on foreign tourists, as well as problems with pollution, have contributed to India’s struggle to become a legitimate tourist destination. Apart from the visa on arrival program, the Indian government has also begun implementing new programs that promote safety and cleanliness and increased security at airports and tourist destinations.
Visitors to India can now apply for tourist visas through the ETA facility and pick them up at one of nine designated airports when they arrive. They are allowed to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
Indian re-entry rules were tightened in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, wherein terrorist David Headley used his multi-entry visa to visit India the country nine times to plan for and orchestrate the terrorist act. Foreign tourists were then prohibited from entering the country more than once in a two-month period. The Indian home ministryMinistry of Home Affairs has relaxed these regulations: The visa-on-arrival program removes re-entry limits to tourists from most countries, except for China, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Two months into the program, India has experienced a 421.6 percent % increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2013. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed his intention of mounting an aggressive campaign to double the number of foreign tourists to India by 2017.