The Union cabinet, yesterday, approved new visa policy for visit to India. The new rule regarding e-tourist visa is aimed to boost business trips, conferences and short-term medical treatment. The government is now planning to promote medical tourism and attract more of business visitors to India. Under this plan, e-tourist visa will now be the e-visa. The visa holder would be allowed entries on dual basis for business and tourism purposes, as well as the third one for medical treatment.
The Cabinet of the Modi government cleared that this e-visa scheme is going to be extended to eight more countries, taking the number to 158 countries, who all are enjoying this facility. Foreign nationals can now apply for e-visa, four months prior to their visit and this visa would now be valid for 60 days. The government had first announced tourist visa on arrival policy in December 2014 which included 43 countries. eVisa was later extended to include 36 more countries
The government release after the Cabinet meeting stated, “The Union Cabinet has given its approval for liberalization, simplification and rationalization of the existing visa regime in India and incremental changes in the visa policy decided by the ministry of home affairs in consultation with various stakeholders.” It added, “The approval will facilitate entry of foreigners for tourism, business and medical purposes. This is expected to stimulate economic growth, increase earnings from export of services like tourism, medical value travel and travel on account of business and to make ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and other such flagship initiatives of the government successful.”
The Prime Minister’s Office got this new visa scheme suggestion by the Commerce Ministry for the aim of improving as well as boosting services trade. The scheme would be covering people coming to India for attending conferences or for treatment including businessmen and tourists.
As per a recent study, the worth of medical tourism in India is around USD 3 billion. It is expected to grow to USD 7 to 8 billion by the year 2020. The number of foreign patients to travel to India 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 1, 71,021, 2, 36,898, and 1, 84,298 correspondingly.
In comparison to small countries such as Thailand who attracts millions, the inflow of tourist and medical visitors to India is quite low. Pakistani citizens are not covered under this visa policy liberalization. As soon as application would be submitted in cases of emergency, health and business visa would be granted within 48 hours.