New visa rules creating problems: Tourism minister
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Last Updated: Saturday, March 06, 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.


First Published: Saturday, March 06, 2010, 22:16

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