India’s planning minister says New Delhi has eased visa regulations for tourists traveling from 180 countries.
Rajiv Shukla announced late Wednesday that many tourists visiting India would be able to pick up their visas at the airport upon arrival in the country, five days after applying.
“We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations,” the minister said, adding that the “historic” move would provide a major boost to the country’s tourism sector.
“It will take five to six months to put the infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October.”
This will affect the majority of the country’s tourists who come from the United States, Britain, and France.
However, people from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka will not benefit from the recent visa changes. Indian officials have cited security concerns as the reason behind this.
Previously, India issued visa-on-arrival for people coming from only 11 countries including Japan, Finland, and Indonesia.
This comes as India’s tourist sector has been threatened by a rise in the number of rape cases in the country, which also includes foreign victims.
Entry restrictions were put in place in 2009, a year after deadly attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, which killed nearly 170 people.
India accused the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) of training, equipping, and financing those responsible for the attack.
Visa regulations in 2009 were tightened after it was revealed that foreign militant David Headley, involved in the Mumbai attacks, stayed in India on long-term tourist visas.
(Reported in PressTV on 9/2/2014