Visa-on-arrival for tourists from China? Home min says yes, intel agencies red flag move

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to China, India is considering extending the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to citizens of that country.

hidden March 25, 2015 08:01:26 IST
Visa-on-arrival for tourists from China? Home min says yes, intel agencies red flag move

New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to China, India is considering extending the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to citizens of that country.

The matter was discussed threadbare on Tuesday at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh where security agencies, however, expressed reservations and suggested a cautious approach before taking the final decision.

Visaonarrival for tourists from China Home min says yes intel agencies red flag move

AFP

Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma, who also attended the meeting, however, said a decision whether to extend the facility to China, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada would be taken soon.

"We have suggested to the Home Minister that extending the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to citizens of 40 countries has led to a quantum jump in tourists arrival. The Home Minister has accepted the proposal for extending the facility to five more countries for discussion," he said.

Home Ministry officials said security agencies have red flagged in granting the visa-on-arrival facility to Chinese nationals due to various reasons.

Frequent issuance of stapled visa by China to people from Arunachal Pradesh was one of the key reasons for the objection, an official said.

However, there is a high possibility of over-ruling the objection of the security agencies by the highest level of the government, he said.

There is a possibility of announcement of visa-on-arrival facility to Chinese nationals before the Prime Minister's proposed visit to China in May.

Tourism Ministry is pitching for offering the facility to China as during December 2014, a total of 14,083 tourist visa-on-arrival (TVoA) were issued as compared to 2,700 during December 2013, registering a growth of 421.6 percent.

During January–December 2014, 39,046 TVoA were issued as compared to 20,294 TVoAs during the corresponding period of 2013, registering a growth of 92.4 per cent.

The Home Minister on Tuesday set up a committee headed by Additional Secretary in the ministry BK Prasad, to examine the proposal of extending the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to the five countries.

One Joint Secretary each from the Ministries of Home, Tourism and Civil aviation would be the member of this committee, a Home Ministry official said.

Last year, India had launched a visa-on-arrival facility for more than 40 countries, including the United States, but did not include China in the list.

Chinese officials have rued to Home Ministry officials that the country has been put at par with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

India's ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha had met top Home Ministry officials in January and said to have asked for visa-on-arrival scheme to be extended to Chinese tourists, have an easier visa regime for other kinds of visas like conference and business visas as well as discussed prospects of more Chinese investment in India in various sectors.
The meeting with Kantha was also attended by Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Singh and Research and Analysis Wing chief Rajinder Khanna.

During December 2014, a total of 14,083 tourist visa-on- arrival (TVoA) were issued as compared to 2,700 during December 2013, registering a growth of 421.6 percent.

During January–December 2014, a total number of 39,046 TVoA were issued as compared to 20,294 TVoAs during the corresponding period of 2013 registering a growth of 92.4 percent, an official statement said here.

The percentage share of top 10 source countries for TVoA in India during December 2014 included US (24.26 percent), Russian Federation (15.06 percent), Republic of Korea (11.01 percent), Ukraine (8.16 percent), Australia (7.98 percent), New Zealand (5.08 percent), Japan (4.30 percent), Singapore (4.27 percent), Germany (4.05 percent) and the Philippines (3.10 percent).

Government had launched TVoA enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) on November 27, 2014 for 40 countries. Prior to it, only the normal TVoA scheme was in operation for 12 countries.

PTI

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