India to introduce visa on arrival for tourists: Minister

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Dubai, May 8 (UNI) In order to boost its tourism sector India will be initiating a marked change in its visa policy by introducing visa on arrival at its airports for foreign tourists.

This was disclosed by visiting Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Kanthi Singh here at the Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) yesterday, Khaleej Times reported.

Currently, tourists visiting India have to obtain a visa from the Indian mission in their respective countries.

''We have already introduced a facility of five-year multiple entry visa system for nationals of 18 countries,'' she said.

''This visa facility allows tourists from the 18 countries to stay in India for up to 90 days followed by their exit and re-entry again on the multiple entry visa,'' she explained.

''India has vast tourism attractions and we are trying to develop new tourism potential such as offering adventure tourism, medical tourism, rural tourism, cruise tourism and shopping fairs,'' she noted.

To ensure the safety and security of tourists, all the state governments are being requested to deploy tourist police at all important tourist destinations, the minister added.

The minister said that the number of tourists from the Middle East to India had registered an impressive growth of 16 per cent in the year 2007.

She pointed out that 172,389 tourists from the Middle East visited India in 2007. The trend continues and tourist arrival figures in the first quarter of 2008 already show a double digit growth over the corresponding period last year.

''India is also emerging as one of the leading source markets,'' she said.

Indian Consul General in Dubai Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor of the ministry EK Bhrath Bhushan, and Regional Director of Incredible India Kamal Lochan Das were also present in there while Ms Kanti Singh was addressing the press conference.

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