21 November 2008

Indian govt considering visa waiver to boost tourism

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The Indian government is considering cancelling their visa fee and reducing entrance fee charges to national monuments in an attempt to lure more tourists to the country, reports The Times of India.

In response to the slowdown in global tourism and economy, the Indian tourism industry is exploring different avenues to attract more tourists to the country.  Tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee met with representatives from the hotel, tour agents and hospitality industries to discuss the possibilities for India's tourism future.

Banerjee supports making Indian tourism more affordable for travellers, especially in these times of economic crisis, because of the positive fiscal effects it would have for local economies.

"We are concerned over the impact of the global recession on tourism.  I plan to take up issues related to visa fee waiver and service tax abolition on bookings made by tour operators with the relevant ministries," he said.

Last year, 5 million people visited India, and by 2010, that number is predicted to double to 10 million.

International visitors to India must have an Indian visa to enter the country.  An Indian tourist visa is usually valid for up to six months, and the visa holder is prohibited from working under the visa conditions.  For short-stay visits, tourists can also apply for a 15-day transit visa.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Indian visas and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.

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