Govt to ease visa norms for tourists: Ambika Soni

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Jaipur, Apr 21 (UNI) In a bid to increase the tourist inflow in the country, the government will ease the visa norms and introduce new schemes, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said here today.

''The facility of long term multiple entry tourist visa of five year duration has been introduced for the nationals of 18 countries and this long term visa would carry stay stipulation of 90 days,'' Ms Soni said while addressing a conference at the 'FICCI Great India Travel Bazaar'.

The government also plans to reduce the existing restrictive permits which are used to travel in North Eastern parts of the country as well as in Jammu and Kashmir.

The minister had said visa-on-arrival is also being worked out with the government and should be applicable by sometime in 2009, during her visit to Singapore earlier this year.

The ministry has launched an 'earn while you learn' programme to train students as tourist guides.

''We need 20,000 guides and we are trying to create guide banks,'' she said.

The government is also offering medical visas for upto one year along with a companion to encourage more people to visit the country for health facilities alongwith eco-tourism, rural tourism, etc as an initiative to preserve climate from global warming.

UNI PDT BJR KN1545

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