EU may relax visa norms for Indians to boost tourism
Brussels: The European Union is contemplating relaxing visa norms for Indians coming to the region to promote tourism.
"European Union (EU) wants more flexible (visa) rules for tourists coming from India", said Antonio Tajani, Vice-President, Industry and Entrepreneurship, European Commission.
In his interaction with the visiting Ficci delegation, Tajani also underlined the need to promote religious tourism saying India has a large Catholic population that would want to visit Europe.
Referring to security concerns which come in the way of issuing visas, he quipped "terrorists don't need visas to operate".
He further said EU would be willing to organise missions to promote tourism between the two sides.
Tajani said airlines could also consider concessional fares to encourage tourists to travel in off-seasons.
The proposed comprehensive free trade agreement between India and the 27-nation EU bloc includes relaxation of visa norms for professionals.
Participating in the discussions, Senior Vice-President of Ficci, Naina Lal Kidwai said companies in Europe could look at investment opportunities in India in sectors like defence, infrastructure, hotel business, nuclear and space technology.
She also pointed out that the government's move to step up infrastructure funding to USD 1 trillion during the five- year Plan (2012-17) will create business opportunities for global companies.
Kidwai said European companies should look at opportunities in Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project which seeks to develop six new industrial townships along the corridor.
The USD 100 billion DMIC project, which was conceptualised in 2006, is being developed as a manufacturing and trading hub.
The project aims to create globally competitive environment and latest infrastructure to activate local commerce, enhance foreign investment, create employment opportunities, enhance exports and attain sustainable development.
The bilateral trade between India and EU jumped to USD 108 billion in 2011 from USD 83.46 billion in 2010.
During January- April 2012, India's export to the EU stood at USD 16.17 billion, while imports were USD 18.53 billion.