PM announces operationalisation of e-visa facility for Chinese

From K J M Varma
Beijing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced the operationalisation of the e-visa facility for the Chinese tourists, inviting them to take its advantage and “experience the beauty of Incredible India”.

“I am delighted to share that the e-Tourist Visa is now available to passport holders of China,” Modi wrote on Chinese social media account Weibo as India operationalised the much debated scheme setting aside its security concerns.

“I had talked about this during my China visit & the Government of India has fulfilled this promise. This will deepen connectivity between our nations. Come, experience the beauty of Incredible India,” he said, referring to his surprise announcement at an interaction with Chinese students here during his visit in May this year.

Earlier, the Indian Embassy and the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong announced the implementation of the visa facility with immediate effect from today to all Chinese nationals.

“The implementation of e-tourist visa will enable Chinese nationals to visit India with ease for recreation, sight- seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short- duration medical treatment or casual business visit,” the Embassy said in press release here.

This facility will encourage more people to travel to India during ‘Visit India Year 2015’ and beyond, it said.

The facility, announced by Modi despite concerns from security agencies, was aimed at attracting a chunk of about 107 million Chinese tourists who visited abroad last year.

The e-visa facility grants 30 days visa for the tourists and valid for entry through nine designated Airports – Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum.

The foreigner can?take exit from any of the authorized Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) in India.

The Indian Consulate in Hong Kong also announced that the scheme would be open to residents of Hong Kong and Macau.

It meets a long standing demand from Hong Kong as the Indians need no visa to visit the former British colony where as Hong Kongers had to obtain visas to visit India.

The e-visa facility aimed at making it easier for the Chinese tourists to visit India, Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kahtha told PTI here hoping that tourists arrivals from China will be improved as a result.

The facility demonstrates the importance being given by Modi to people-to-people contacts between both the countries to provide essential foundation for good relations between both the countries, he said.

A recent survey by Hotels.com showed that over 174 million Chinese tourists will go abroad in about four years and they’re expected to spend USD 264 billion. At present more Indian tourists visit China than Chinese tourists to India.

Recent officials figures showed about 3.5 lakh Indian visited China in the first six months of this year while hardly 1.75 lakh Chinese tourists visited India last year.

In all over six lakh Indians, mostly businessmen and group tourists, visited China last year.

Boosted by Chinese government push, its tourists travelled mostly in the Indian subcontinent – Nepal (1.40 lakh), Maldives (Four lakhs) and Sri Lanka (1.30 lakh) last year but hardly to India.

According to tourism authorities, both sides have been working together to simplify visa procedures, increase direct flights and improve service levels.

The two sides also aim to develop new travel packages and routes as well as improve communication and coordination to safeguard safety of tourists.

The Visa on Arrival Facility is available for holders of passport of following countries Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands and Mauritius.

Others include Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands,Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

PTI

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