New visa rules creating problems: Tourism minister

Last Updated: Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 22:16

Panaji: Tourism Minister Kumari Selja Saturday
said her ministry has taken up the matter of new visa
regulations that curtails tourists stay in the country with
the External Affairs Ministry following complaints from a few
states.

"I know it has created problems. We have taken it up with
the External Affairs ministry," Selja said addressing the
regional conference on tourism of western states Saturday.

The Union minister was responding to the concerns raised
by Goa Tourism Minister Fransisco Pacheco regarding adverse
impact on tourist arrivals due to new visa regulations.

Pacheco had pointed out earlier at the conference that
the new visa regulations, curtailing the period of stay of a
guest in the country, were creating problems for the industry.

The Union Tourism minister, in her address, said inbound
tourism has received impetus due to the new scheme of visa-on-
arrival though it is now restricted to only tourists from a
a few select countries.

"The visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists have borne
fruits. We expect this move to give tremendous boost to
inbound tourism," the minister said adding "it has sent
positive signals to the source markets."

Selja told the gathering comprising Tourism Ministers
from Goa, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
that the scheme is getting good response from visitors.

The visa-on-arrival scheme, introduced in January, is now
applicable to tourists arriving from Singapore, Finland, New
Zealand, Luxembourg and Japan.

The Union Tourism Minister said that after a slack season
last year due to global recession, foreign tourist arrival
figures in the last three months have shown an encouraging
trend.

"December 2009 witnessed an unprecedented rise of 21 per
cent, compared to the corresponding period during the previous
year," she added.

Selja said the trend continued with 16 per cent growth
in January and about 10 per cent in February.

"Aggressive marketing and concerted efforts of all
stakeholders has resulted in this growth," she said.

The minister also announced establishment of National
Tourist Helpline which will work in close cooperation with
the states.

"Several states have deployed tourist police at
important tourist destinations in one form or the other.

However, we feel that a specialised agency to handle tourist
safety should be in place," she said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 22:16

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