NEW DELHI (TIP): The Government will roll out by next week the muchawaited electronic-visa system for tourists from select countries including US and Japan. Home minister Rajnath Singh along with tourism minister Sripad Naik will unveil the first phase of e-visa system for tourists from two dozens countries including US and Japan at a function here shortly, a senior Tourism Ministry official said.

While Australia is likely to be accorded the e-visa facility during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit Down Under, some countries belonging to BRICS and African region are likely to be announced in the first phase. The e-visa is expected to give a big boost to the foreign tourist arrivals in the country. While in January about 4.95 lakh foreign tourists arrived in India, there were a total of 51.79 lakh during January-September this year. All the arrangements including the software for this system is ready now and will be operational at nine international airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Goa.

The official said though there are certain issues yet to be resolved for the Goa Airport, the Government has decided in principle to extend it to Goa as well. According to the official, about 25 countries including the 13 countries which are currently having the Visaon- Arrival (VoA) facility in India to be covered under e-visa regime. US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore are among the countries which will be given e-visa facility in the first phase. Barring a few countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia, all 180 countries will be covered under e-visa regime in phases, the official said.

He said China is definitely on the list of countries to be provided e-visa facility, but not in the first list. China is a big-thrust market for India and Tourism Ministry has taken various steps to woo maximum Chinese tourists. While the Incredible India website is being translated into the Chinese language and an infoline will also be established in that language. Besides guides are being trained in Chinese language to help tourists from that country. In order to get e-visa, one would need to apply in the designated website along the required fees. They would be granted an electronic version of the visa within 96 hours.

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