india

Govt looks at easing e-visa restrictions

“The deliberations are on with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Health Ministry in this regard, and we shall soon be able to arrive at a conscious decision regarding e-visa relaxations,” said Arvind Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism

The government said it was looking to ease e-visa restrictions for international travellers coming into India, but would tread cautiously considering the new Covid-19 strain.

“The deliberations are on with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Health Ministry in this regard, and we shall soon be able to arrive at a conscious decision regarding e-visa relaxations,” said Arvind Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism, on the sidelines of the annual convention of domestic tour operators in Gujarat’s Kevadia recently. Sources say that an inter-ministerial meeting in this regard will be held as early as next week itself. But Singh clarified that the visa restrictions can be eased only if the success of the vaccination is established abroad and there is confidence that the numbers of cases are decreasing.

He added that the US, UK and Europe were the major sources of international tourism to India, but they remained among the regions worst hit by the pandemic. So the Centre, he said, was taking a very cautious approach in reopening the e-visa facility. “The final decision will depend on a lot of factors, including bilateral arrangements with other countries,” he said, adding that the discussions on easing visa restrictions for international travellers was definitely on and the air bubble arrangement may soon be expanded. There may be a reciprocal visa arrangement with some “safer” countries.

Till international visitors can start coming again, the government is going all out to promote domestic tourism to fill the gap in the tourism sector.

The Ministry of Tourism, as part of its ongoing engagement with industry and its stakeholders, supported the Association of Domestic Tour Operators (ADTOI) for their annual convention at Kevadia, from February 12 to 14. The convention is the first major physical event being organised by the industry post-lockdown.

The writer was a guest of Ministry of Tourism at ADTOI, Kevadia

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