India to introduce visa on arrival

| 06 July 2001 22:16 IST

India is planning to provide facility of visa on arrival, to attract more foreign tourists to the country.

After inaugurating country's premier water sports institute in Goa, union tourism minister Ananth Kumar said the proposal is being mooted to facilitate foreigners coming down to India.

Citing visa and immigration as one of the major problem confronting arrival of foreign tourists to India, the minister said the department is planning to solve it by introducing one-touch facility at tourist centres.

Regarding the facility of visa on arrival, Ananth Kumar said it would be initially introduced to few countries on pilot basis, though he declined to name a single country. "It would depend upon the factors of security and reciprocality for providing similar facility to Indians in their country", he added.

Besides simplifying the procedures of granting visa and immigration, the minister informed the journalists that problems of developing proper infrastructure, increasing its air seat capacity from 5.4 million to 11.6 million and imaging India's strength rather than weaknesses would also be tackled in a planned manner.

As a part of imaging India across the globe, he has allocated Rs 2.5 crore for marketing Goa as one of the six major international destinations in the country. The promotion would be mainly focusses in the USA, Europe, Middle East and South East Asian countries.

Besides circulating promotional material through its offices world over and advertising in print and electronic media, it also includes road shows and CD circulation.

The department, following places like Taj Mahal and Khajurao, would also prepare virtual walkthrough CDs on Goa as well as virtual recreation CDs on historical monuments in the coastal state. The central department is also constructing Bharat Partyatan Bhavan in the state to facilitate foreign tourists, as a one-stop facility.

While imaging India on a positive tone, Ananth Kumar feels its focus should be the country's rich cultural heritage, scientific advancement and providing entertainment in a secured environment.

Though he admits that India still has less number of foreigners coming in compared to the number of Indians going abroad, he also observed that it generates almost Rs 14500 crore from foreign exchange with an overall central budget of Rs 150 crore and Rs 450 crore of all the states.

The central government, in the meanwhile, has invested around Rs 7.8 crore in the premier water sports institute in Goa, providing with para-sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, yachting, river rafting, water scooter driving, sea surfing etc.

In addition, Ananth Kumar also disclosed his plan to create international yachting hub in Goa. "Goa is the most ideally suited place as it also has an integral part of greenland which can be exploited for the purpose", he feels.

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