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The introduction of an electronic e-visa to India has been branded “a game-changer” in attracting British tourists to the sub-continent.
Plans are already in place to extend the e-visa – introduced to the UK market in August – from the 113 countries it currently covers to 150 by March next year, to grant multiple-entry visas as well as single-entry, and to let visitors apply for the visa up to six months in advance instead of the current 30 days.
Speaking at World Travel Market, Vinod Zutshi, secretary to the India ministry of tourism, said: “The tourist e-visa has been a game-changer and we are going to extend it even further. We are trying to simplify it to make the system easier for operators and tourists.
“I am absolutely sure that bringing in the e-visa has motivated a large section of people to visit India, and by word of mouth, this will increase gradually.”
The tourism ministry is also investing in developing beach resorts in regions such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, relaxing limits on hotel construction in coastal areas, building jetties to attract more cruise passengers and golf courses to encourage longer stays from leisure travellers, and inviting private investors to restore the network of 78 heritage lighthouses dotted along the coastline.
Mr Zutshi added: “We are developing the coastal regions for tourism purposes. Apart from the well-known places like Kerala and Goa, we have many spots where beach tourism can flourish but we just don’t have the infrastructure.”
The ministry is also working with local authorities around some of its border areas to reduce the need for additional permits to visit some areas of Assam, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
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