India to ease visa policy for Chinese

2015-05-15 09:26:17 GMT2015-05-15 17:26:17(Beijing Time)  ecns.cn

High on the list of expectations for Narendra Modi's visit to China is the introduction of a visa on arrival facility for Chinese tourists.

China and India have both vowed to increase people-to-people contact, and tourism is an important part of this.

India's tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said the country was doing all it can to increase the flow of Chinese tourists to India.

Despite the cultural links, India till now has not been the preferred choice for holidays for Chinese tourists. But Indian tourism ministry is in favour of changing that.

Chinese tourists form less than 2 per cent of the total in-bound tourism that India sees. This time round, India is trying to tap into the burgeoning market of outbound travel from China and the visit India year in China is part of the larger policy to increase people to people contact between the two neighbours.

Tourism Ministry in India is pitching for offering the facility of electronic visas to China and 4 other countries. The e-tourist visa would mean that a visitor can apply for a visa online without visiting the Indian mission.

Once approved, the visitor will get an authorization letter that has to be produced at the time of immigration. Indian Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma says, issuing visa on arrival to Chinese tourists will help the Indian tourism industry immensely.

"The five countries which we think of this visa on arrival and this ETA - now with 44 countries as on, we have seen a 1200 per cent growth in this and we understand that if these more five countries are added to this, we will able to reach about 62 per cent of the world tourism market," he said.

The Indian government has also taken efforts to ensure security of tourists - another big concern.

"On the security problem as and when a foreign tourist comes on the immigration counter - he will be given a welcome card and dos and don'ts and along with that he will also be given a helpline in the form of 1363, with that he gets an answer in the language - whatever language he is interested in," Sharma said.

Both India and China have introduced visa on arrival for a few countries but not for each other. Indian travel industry experts believe, opening visa on arrival for Chinese tourists would have a massive impact on India's tourism industry.

"This is very important that we provide e-Visa to China as we have done to other countries and once that is done then tourism from China is going to grow," said Subhash Goyal, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators.

Buddhism remains a binding force between China and India and with e-visa it would mean increasing cultural understanding and in-turn having a positive impact on Sino-Indian bilateral relations.

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