Currently, $60 is the fee charged by the Indian government for the e-tourist visa, this figure is relatively higher than the similar fee for visa of other countries. Indians normally pay a lower fee ranging from $20-$40 for similar e-tourist visa to other countries. The tourism ministries of those countries have requested the government of India to reduce the visa fee for their nationals also. Importantly, the Electronic Tourist Visa (ETV) scheme has been immensely successful witnessing a surge of 900% in the tourist figures in recent times.
In response to the request from other countries to reciprocate the gesture, the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) of India has mandated the Home Ministry to check the possibility of reducing the e-tourist visa fees for the foreign nationals. Though the Home Ministry is yet to make any official announcements, the e-visa fee structure is expected to be rationalized soon. As per the senior Home Ministry official, "Following a request of the External Affairs Ministry, the Home Ministry has examined the feasibility of reducing the ETV fees and decided to rationalise the fee structure".
It is further reported that the fee for tourist visa to India will be categorized into four slabs between $0 and $40 on ‘a reciprocal basis’. As per the e-tourist visa policy of India, the nationals of any of 113 countries receive an email authorizing them to travel to India once their visa application for India is approved. These foreign nationals can travel to India with a print-out of the authorization and are required to present the same to the immigration officials on arrival at major Indian airports. These 113 countries include nationals from the US, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Thailand, Sweden, Singapore, China, Oman, Russia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Ireland, Malaysia and others.
According to an official government estimate, approximately 1,70,000 tourists arrived on e-tourist Visa during Since January till August in 2015 as compared to just 17,000 during the corresponding period in the previous year, thus showing a massive surge of around 900%.
Similarly, the Indian government is also offering the ‘visa on arrival India’ scheme, extending to the nationals of 180 countries by March 31, 2016. Foreign tourists with the approved visa application for India will get entry to the country from 16 international airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Gaya and Tiruchirapalli.
The high growth is being attributed to extending of e-tourist visa for several countries and also introducing the visa-on-arrival scheme for around 12 countries foreign nationals.