Visa on Arrival scheme drew 6,549 foreigners in 2010

New Delhi: Over 6500 foreigners availed the Visa on Arrival scheme last year when it was introduced by the Government in a bid to promote tourism and facilitate bonafide foreign tourists who plan their visits at a short notice.

The VoA scheme was introduced on January 1, 2010 for citizens of five countries - Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore.

A total of 6,549 foreign visitors availed the scheme in 2010, according to Tourism Ministry data.

While maximum tourists from New Zealand (1944) availed the scheme followed by Singapore (1814) and Japan (1457), response from Luxembourg (71) was minimum in 2010.

In December, 2010, total number of VoAs issued were 905 with country-wise breakup as Finland (140), Japan (216), New Zealand (340), Singapore (191) and Luxemburg (18). Government has now extended the VoA scheme for four more countries - Cambodia, Laos, Vitenam and Philippines.

There were as many as 5.58 million foreign tourist arrivals in India during 2010 with a growth rate of 9.3 per cent as compared to 5.11 million during 2009.

Foreign exchange earnings from tourism during 2010 were USD 14,193 million as compared to USD 11,394 million during 2009 and USD 11,747 million during 2008.

During the year 2010 the maximum number of VoAs were issued at Delhi airport (3493), followed by Mumbai (1511), Chennai (1211) and Kolkata (334).