The government has decided to introduce some changes to the e-visa programme, which has now been extended to more than 160 countries, in an effort to make it more “visitor friendly”. Inaugurating a meeting with state government representatives on the tourism sector, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel on Tuesday said that “a flexible e-tourist visa regime will come into place, with higher fee for the peak season of July to March and a considerably lower fee during the lean period of April to June”
As per the new proposal, tourists will pay $10 for a 30-day e-visa in the lean season and $25 during the peak season. A new five-year e-visa will be introduced, which will cost $80, while the fee for one-year visa has been kept at $40. But for tourists from Japan, Singapore and Sri Lanka, the fee for one-year and five-year e-visas is $25.
There will be no short-duration visa fee for tourists from 14 Pacific Island nations such as Fiji, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands, besides exemption to citizens of Myanmar, Argentina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa, even as they will have to pay regular fee for one-year and five-year visas.
Patel said the move was aimed at encouraging more foreign tourists to visit India. While the Home Ministry has cleared the proposal, as per officials in the Ministry of Tourism, a final clearance from MEA is awaited and is likely to be given soon.
A steep hike in e-visa fee was introduced by the Home Ministry in July last year, leaving the Ministry of Tourism concerned. Then Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons had urged the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh to reconsider the hike.
The travel industry had then sent representations that they were “not consulted before the announcement”.