Tourists from around 180 countries in the world will find it relatively easier to make travel plans to India and get their visas on arrival as per a new decision taken by government of India.
Indian government had maintained a tough stance on issuing visa after David Headley's revelations had made his role in the 26/11 attacks clear. Headley had utilised his tourist visa to get data and provide it to terrorists after staying in India for long.
As per the new scheme, tourists can apply for a visa online and leave for India. On reaching the country, they will be provided with a visa.
Travel agents as well as economists feel that this move will generate huge funds for India and generate employment on a large-scale basis.
Foreigners usually complained that the status or availability of visa for India was always vague as it would take them days to receive appropriate response on visa availability from local agencies.
"We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations," Planning Minister Rajiv Shukla told reporters in the capital late Wednesday.
Countries benefiting from this move are Britain, Germany, United States and France which form a major chunk of the 'visiting populace'.
Citizens from eight countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq have not been included in the changes for security reasons.
But the question that arises is, whether only developed nations were included in this list and others discarded?
A meeting of top foreign ministry, tourism and other government officials on Wednesday cleared the way for the changes, which were also recently approved by the India's intelligence agencies.
The changes were first pitched in last October for 40 countries but the number was increased after some discussions by the panel.
The number of foreign tourists arriving in India grew by 13% during the first nine months of 2013, United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data showed.
The visa-on-arrival facility will be initially offered at nine airports across India for a period of 30 days, then it will be extended to other airports as well.
India currently issues visas on arrival to visitors from 11 foreign nations, including Japan, Finland and Indonesia.
International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record number of arrivals of just over 1 billion, according to the latest World Tourism Barometer published by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in January this year.
Russia and China clearly lead the list of most visited countries, UNWTO noted. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of $102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. Russia, the fifth largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September as per BRICS reports.
Demand for international tourism in 2013 was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (up 6 %), Africa (up 6%) and Europe (up 5%), says the UN.
India's public utilities, infrastructure and amenities are being renovated before the tourist season sets in.
Countries that offer VISA-ON-ARRIVAL to India.
Thailand: Thailand visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days by paying a fee of 1,000 baht.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days.
Nepal: Nepal visa for Indians is not required for those holding proof of nationality and coming from India.
Maldives: Maldives visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Seychelles: Seychelles visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for free for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Bolivia: Bolivia visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival by paying a fee of $52 at La Paz airport.
El Salvador : El Salvador visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival by purchasing a tourist card for $10 to stay for a maximum of up to three months.
Kenya : Kenya visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months by paying $50.
Madagascar: Madagascar visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 90 days by paying a fee of MGA 140,000 ($75).
Mozambique : Mozambique visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days by paying $66.
Saint Kitts and Nevis visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for free for a maximum stay of three months provided holding proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay.
St Lucia visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of six weeks by paying a fee of $50 and holding proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay.
Antarctica: Since Antarctica is not a part of any country, no visa is required. However, you do need a permit to enter, visas for destinations enroute that you stop at, and a handsome budget.
As most Antarctica flights and cruises depart from Argentina or Chile, you will need to show your passports in either country.
Albania: Albania visa on arrival can be obtained for those holding a letter issued by the Albanian Ministry of Interior confirming that a visa will be available on arrival.
Cambodia: Cambodia visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days provided holding a passport photo. Applicable fee is $20.
Fiji islands: Fiji visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of four months. Visitors are required to show evidence of sufficient funds to cover their stay in Fiji and hold travel documents.
Macau : Macau visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days. Visitors are required to show evidence of sufficient funds ($60) to cover their stay in Macao and hold travel documents.
Laos visa for Indians can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days provided holding a return or onward ticket, all travel documents required for next destination, a confirmed hotel reservation, one passport size photograph and a fee of $30.
Sri Lanka: Indians can obtain a Sri Lanka Visa on Arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days however they need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization before travelling.