ALONGSIDE extending the e-tourist visa (e-TV) to 150 countries by March 2016, the government is also considering expanding its ambit this year. Currently, citizens of as many as 113 nations can obtain electronic visa for their travel to India for a maximum stay of 30 days.
But very soon, e-TV will allow multiple visits, and will be valid for 180 days. Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told The Indian Express, “There was a demand from many quarters. We have been in talks with the Home Ministry for some time now to allow tourists multiple entry after obtaining e-visa once, and also extend its validity for a stay up to 180 days. Now, it’s up to the home ministry to make an official announcement; I think they will do it soon.”
However, it is not clear whether the announcement by the home ministry will be made for all e-TV enabled countries in one go or selectively, owing to security concerns.
“Besides, tourists arriving in India on e-TV will soon start receiving a ‘gift kit’ from the government, comprising a prepaid SIM card (which needs to be recharged in India), maps, booklets and a CD with information about tourist attractions, dos and don’ts, and emergency contacts,” said a Tourism Ministry official.
The e-TV scheme was launched in November 2014 for 43 countries — including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Palestine, UAE and the US. Nationals from such countries can apply for visa to India online, without having to visit the embassy, and applications are processed in three working days. At present, an e-TV is allowed for a single entry, for a maximum of two visits in a calendar year.
Recently, British actor Orlando Bloom was deported to London briefly as his e-TV had not been cleared.