India eases visa rules to boost tourist numbers
NEW DELHI (AFP) - Tourists travelling to India from 180 countries will no longer have to queue at their local consulates to obtain visas after New Delhi announced an "historic" overhaul of its strict visa regime.
Most foreigners currently have to wait several weeks before learning whether they will be allowed to enter India after submitting their applications at visa processing centres, a major deterrent for potential visitors.
Under the new scheme, many tourists will be allowed to apply online and then receive the green light within five days, before picking up their visa at the airport on arrival into India.
"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 on Wednesday. "The facility will provide a major boost to the country's tourism sector. This is historic," Mr Shukla said.