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.
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 per cent.
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.