Free Press Journal

421 pc jump in tourist arrival after new scheme: Rajnath



New Delhi: India has seen 421.6 per cent jump in tourist arrival after implementation of a faster visa clearance process, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today. Addressing a meeting of the consultative committee of Members of Parliament attached to the Home Ministry, Singh said after the launch of the Visa Enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) and Immigration, Visa, Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) project, 65,000 visas have been issued in 75 days and on an average 1,000 travel documents are being issued per day at present.

“There had been 421.6 per cent jump in tourist arrival during December 2014 as compared to the previous year,” he told the MPs. In December 2013, a total of 2,700 tourist visas- on-arrival (VOAs) were issued while in December 2014, the corresponding number had gone upto over 14,000.

ETA and IVFRT enable the prospective visitor to apply for an Indian Visa from his or her home country online without visiting the Indian Mission and also pay the visa fee online. Once approved, the applicant will receive an email authorising him or her to travel to India and the person can travel carrying 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.

The Home Minister told the members that the IVFRT is one of the Mission Mode Project (MMP) undertaken by the Home Ministry under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The scope of the project covers 178 Indian missions abroad and 13 Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs), 674 Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) and 83 Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) within the country.

Singh said as on date the project has been implemented in 155 Indian missions abroad and 13 FRROs, 450 FROs and 81 ICPs covering 85 per cent of the foreigners coming to India. The implementation of the project in remaining 23 Indian missions abroad, biometrics software installation in 116 Indian missions abroad, 224 FROs and implementation of e-gates at airports will be completed by March, 2017.

The Home Minister said the tourist visa on arrival
enabled by ETA is an important component of IVFRT project and was launched in 44 countries on November 27, 2014. This facility is available at nine designated international airports of the country viz., Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

The project was allocated a budget of Rs 1,011 crore, which was subsequently re-estimated at Rs 638.90 crore. The development of all software applications by NIC resulted in higher strategy control and cost savings. Biometric enrollment software has also been developed at NIC and during the reworked extension of the project, an amount of Rs 372.10 crore resulted as savings.

The members appreciated the scheme and discussed its various aspects such as safety and security of tourists,
promotion of tourism and necessary advisories for important tourist places and destinations.

They also suggested upgrading infrastructure facilities such as verification of hotels, updating of their records, safe transportation facilities and better connectivity at different places. MPs also requested the Chairman to ensure that these facilities are availed on reciprocal basis from these countries. There was an appreciation for the use of IT as enabler for better implementation of VISA facilities.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Home Secretary L C Goyal, among others, attended the meeting.