New Delhi: India has decided to reduce visa fees for tourists arriving under the highly successful Electronic Tourist Visa (ETV) scheme which has facilitated an almost 900 per cent jump in tourist arrivals.
India's fee for ETV is USD 60 and the facility extends to 113 countries.
However, there are many countries which offer ETV or Visa on Arrival to Indians at a lesser fee - some offer it at USD 20, USD 35 or USD 40 and a few charge no visa fee.
Many of these countries are asking India to reciprocate the gesture.
Though a formal announcement is yet to be made, it is learnt that there will be total four fee slabs between USD 60 to nil. The fee for ETV will completely be on reciprocal basis.
"We are planning to make the visa fee in four slabs. USD 20, USD 48, USD 60 and no visa fee will be levied from some countries. We have sent the proposal to the External Affairs Ministry for final approval," a Home Ministry official said.
The ETV fees were rationalised following the request of those friendly countries.
Under the ETV scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation.
On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.
India currently offers ETV facility to citizens of 113 countries and it plans to raise it to 150 countries by March 31, 2016. Tourists can arrive in 16 designated airports across the country.
According to an official estimate, a total of 1,69,976 tourists arrived on E-Tourist Visa during January-August this year as compared to 17,120 during the corresponding period in 2014, showing a growth of 892.9 per cent.
Maximum tourists from the US (25.93 per cent) availed the e-visa facility followed by Germany (10 per cent), UAE (8.92 per cent), France (8.76 per cent), Australia (7.20 per cent) and Canada (6.39 per cent) among the top 10 source countries.