Desperate to attract more tourists to the country, the Government of India is working out the modalities of extending the Visa on Arrival scheme to 180 countries including the U.S., UK, and Australia.
As the name suggests, the Visa on Arrival program lets visitors from certain countries get a visa after landing in India at key international airports.
Instead of going to local Indian Embassies or Consulates to obtain a visa, visitors can get it upon arrival at the airport for a fee of $60.
It should take about six months to set up the infrastructure to extend the Visa on Arrival scheme to 180 countries.
If all goes well, the expansion to 180 countries should be ready by September/October this year.
From 11 to 180
Launched in January 2010, Visa on Arrival is currently available to citizens of 11 nations - Japan, Finland, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Luxembourg, Cambodia and Laos.
As per Indian government rules, the purpose of visit should be sight seeing, casual visit to meet friends or family, recreation, medical treatment or casual business visit.
The visas are valid for 30-days from date of arrival.
In 2013, the Government of India issued 20,924 Visas on Arrival, up 26.2% over the prior year.
The highest number of Visas on Arrival in 2013 were issued to visitors from Japan (6,448), followed by New Zealand (3,968), the Philippines (2,967), Indonesia (2,758), Singapore (2,486), Finland (1,030), Vietnam (205), Myanmar (148), Luxembourg (145), Cambodia (120) and Laos (19).
Last year, the maximum number of Visas on Arrival were issued at New Delhi airport (11,046) followed by Mumbai (4,206), Chennai (2,815), Kolkata (1,351), Bangalore (380), Kochi (229), Hyderabad (165) and Trivandrum (102).
Even after India extends Visa on Arrival to 180 countries, nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia will not be eligible for the program.