Government may lower visa fee to attract tourists in lean season
Foreigners may get to pay a lower visa fee for vacations in India during the lean season, with the government considering concessions aimed at making the country a year-round destination for tourists from all over the world.
The idea, mooted by group of young CEOs at a recent Niti Aayog event, has found favour with the tourism ministry, which has started talks with the ministry of external affairs to work out the modalities after Prime Minister Narendra Modi evinced interest in such an out-of-the-box idea to boost tourism in the country.
The peak season for international tourists in India is from October to March, when travellers from the US, Bangladesh, the UK, Sri Lanka, Russia and Canada throng India in large numbers.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India dips in the non-peak season because of the extreme summer temperatures.
About 3.66 million foreigners visited India in the April-September period in 2016, which accounted for 42% of the total of 8.8 million last year, according to data on the tourism ministry website.
The tourism ministry wants to promote destinations in India that can be visited in all seasons and year-round inflow of tourists will boost the creation of jobs and growth in the sector, a senior government official told ET.
“Concessional visa fees for nonpeak season is required to give initial push to the sector,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “However, this could come with some riders and would be initially for a short period.”
The cost of a six-month multiple entry Indian tourist visa ranges from $32 for Singaporean nationals to over $67 for US citizens and over $137 for citizens of the UK.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India during January-September this year grew 15.5% to 7.12 million from a year earlier.
“People from the Middle East may find the Himalayas cool enough for a vacation. Hence, we need to make it attractive enough for people to explore India throughout the year,” the official said.
Under its ‘Champions of Change’ initiative held in August, Niti Aayog had invited 200 young CEOs for an informal interaction with the Prime Minister.
They were divided into six groups, each dealing with a challenge for the country’s policy makers. These included doubling farmers’ incomes, creating cities of tomorrow, Make in India, reforming the financial sector, worldclass infrastructure and New India-2022.
Follow Us on Twitteridea mooted group young CEOs recent Niti Aayog event found favour with tourism ministry which started talks external affairs work modalities.