India has confirmed plans to offer visa-on-arrival (VoA) services to US citizens.
The decision was announced during Indian Prime Minister Nahendra Modi’s trip to the US, and will allow US tourists to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
The move is the latest in a series of measures by Modi’s new government designed to boost India’s tourism sector. Along with improving infrastructure, he has pledged to continue with plans to expand the VoA system to more countries, and to make it available at more entry points.
Despite being one of the world’s largest countries, India only welcomed only 6.97 million international visitors in 2013 – fewer than South Korea and Singapore. This gave it just a 0.64% share of global tourist arrivals – something the new government is keen to improve.
So the move to grant VoA to the US – India’s largest international source market – is logical. Nearly 16% of all arrivals to India last year were US citizens, and the US is the only country to have contributed more than one million visitors to India in 2013.
At present, Indian VoA is available for citizens of 12 countries – Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and South Korea. But the inclusion of the US could be the start of a much wider plan to open up the VoA scheme to up to 180 countries across the world.