While India has always been a popular tourist destination, receiving over 6 million visitors a year, its visa rules have always been something of a sticking point. Wealthy visitors from developed nations like the USA and UK have been forced to spend time and money applying for tourist visas before allowed entry into the country.
This isn’t all. India’s visa policies have, until recently, prevented rapid re-entry to the country. Once a visitor has entered India they have begun a timer, and will have visa requests denied until a specified period of time has been passed.
Since the Mumbai bombings the Indian government has prevented anyone from re-entering the country twice in a 60 day period. While it could be argued that there is some logic to this rule, in reality it is the tourists as much as potential terrorists that have been frustrated by them.
Many visitors seeking to explore the Indian subcontinent opt to use India as their home base. Flying to and from India is normally quite reasonably priced with a large number of operators available, helping to keep prices low due to competition.
From this home base it should be easy enough to nip across the border during your trip in order to see neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, before re-entering India to catch your flight home. However these re-entry rules have prevented such activity, making India less popular for longer-term travellers.
As a result, while India still has an enviable tourist industry, in comparison to some of its neighbours India is lagging seriously behind. As an example Malaysia, which has far fewer visa restrictions, receives four times the number of tourists that India does each year. Such a boost in India’s tourist industry could work wonders for the economy.
Now, though, it seems that the Indian High Commission may be changing their tune. Now, it seems, a u-turn is being made that will make India a far more attractive proposition to wealthy tourists. The changes should help to grow India’s tourism industry and, as a result, further bolster their already impressive economy.
To begin with the new rules scrap the old re-entry rules for visitors from many countries, including Britain. This will make travel around the area far easier – not to mention cheaper when one can explore the Indian sub-continent using India as a base.
Even better news it hat visitors from a range of countries now be able to obtain a visa when landing at designated airports in India. The list of countries benefiting from this arrangement include Germany, France, Spain, Russia, The UK and now the USA though a specific date has yet to be announced.
Previously it cost almost £100 to gain access to an Indian visa, significantly increasing the cost of an average holiday there and helping to make competing destinations appear better value in comparison. With reduced costs and easier travel, India is expecting to see significant growth in tourism.
If you’re planning to visit in the coming months expect to find a far more traveller-friendly destination on your arrival.