The Indian Government has renamed the tourist visa-on-arrival scheme and the new name – e-Tourist Visa – came into effect on 15 April. The aim is to ensure that tourists do not face any problem as a result of the previous name. Going by the previous name, a tourist could well imagine that he or she could just fly to India and get the visa at the airport itself. However, such an idea was far from the truth. The Indian Government wanted to make sure that nothing of that sort happened.
What Happens with the e-Tourist Visa?
The Home Ministry issued a press release on the said matter where it mentioned that in the new system there is significant emphasis on providing pre-authorisation for visas. This is done before they embark on their journey to India. In the press release that came out on 14 April, the government also stated that a few embassies had requested it to change the name of the previous scheme. This could be one of the major reasons why the name was changed. The suggestion to change the previous name – tourist visa on arrival-electronic travel authorization or TVoA-ETA – was given by a group of officers from the following departments of the government:
• Home Ministry
• Bureau of Immigration
• External Affairs Ministry
What Happened in the Previous System?
In the TVoA-ETA scheme a visa applicant needed to upload his photograph as well as passport in order to apply for a visa. He or she was also supposed to pay the visa fee online itself. His or her application would then be processed by the relevant authorities and he/she would be sent the electronic travel authorisation (e-visa) within a span of 72 hours through e-mail.
In other countries the term visa on arrival means that you land at the airport and are given the visa. However, the same thing did not happen in India and this was why the name tourist visa on arrival was a misnomer of sorts. Quite often it would so happen that a tourist would come to India only to be quizzed about his or her e-visa by the immigration authorities. Nowadays, the Home Ministry has made arrangements for such tourists to be provided visas so that they do not face any further hassle, a considerate and laudable act indeed. The Home Ministry has further stated that it will look to expand the e-TV to more countries. However, the expansion would take place in definite phases.
As of now, this facility is available to tourists from across 44 countries and it is provided in nine airports across India. The four metros have this benefit along with Kochi, Trivandrum, Bengaluru, Goa, and Hyderabad. Till date, approximately 1.10 lakh visas have been granted this way.
Effects of TVoA-ETA
From the look of it the TVoA-ETA programme has proved to be rather successful in helping to boost the number of people visiting India. The programme presently covers 44 countries. As opposed to January 2014, when 1903 tourists came to India, in January 2015, 25,023 tourists have used the scheme to come to India. Compared on a month-to-month basis the growth rate is a humongous 1214.9%.
The scheme was expanded to its present reach during November 2014. Back then it included only 12 countries. Majority of the tourists – 23.71% – have been from the US, followed by South Korea with 18.26%. There have also been plenty of tourists from Russia (14.06%), Australia (8.83%), Ukraine (9.99%), and Germany (6.53%).