New Delhi, April 9: The move to grant in principle approval for Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to travellers from 180 countries to India will boost tourism in the country, Tourism Secretary Parvez Dewan said on April 8.

“Travelling to India will be made easy once the ETA to visit the country becomes operational,” he said.

ETA, which will allow foreign travellers to apply for a visa from home and receive an online confirmation in five working days, is expected to become operational by October. Barring eight prior reference countries, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, government has decided to give e-visa to all the 180 countries.

Mr. Dewan added that during the past year, India had considerably relaxed its visa regime and expanded the Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) scheme.

India launched the VoA scheme in January 2010 for citizens of five countries – Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore — visiting India for tourism purposes. The scheme was later extended to six more countries in January 2011.

Further, the secretary said that a dedicated helpline for inbound tourists will be launched in a year. “Tourism Infoline in 12 languages will become operational in about a year,” he said.

The Infoline – a dedicated call centre — will provide information regarding tourist-related facilities and services available in the country.

Source: The Hindu