Category Archives: Visa

Sri Lanka continues visa-on-arrival for Indian nationals

Chamari Rodrigo, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai, has said that the visa-on-arrival scheme for visitors of Indian nationality continues undisturbed. Sri Lanka had suspended its plans to grant visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries after the devastating Easter suicide bombings. But it was unclear whether India was one of them. The country had started offering free visa on arrival to Indian travellers as part of the its efforts to promote tourism starting May 1, 2019 for six months in its initial run. This scheme was aimed at a total of 36 countries that include India as well as Pakistan. The Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India along with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) have started taking measures to ensure that tourists return to the island nation soon. They have already met two travel trade associations – Travel Agents Association Of India (TAAI) and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) – and will soon be meeting the travel trade as well. Rodrigo said, “The country’s security situation now is normal, stability reigns across the country and children are back to school. However, it has had a direct impact to tourism and we have taken some measures to help revive the industry.” In 2017, Sri Lanka saw 3,83,000 Indian nations visiting the country. In 2018, this number jumped to 426,000 but still falling short of their targeted 450,000. Sri Lanka is looking to promote the destination for weddings and film shoots as well apart from FIT leisure.

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Schengen Visa Fee to increase to 80 euros from January 2020

The European Union Council has announced that travellers in need of a Schengen Visa will need to pay a higher visa fee starting from January 2020. The changes come after the European Union Council gave the final nod to an updated Schengen Visa code on 6 June. The new EU Visa regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Six months after, it will come into force and start applying to all third-country nationals that need a visa to the Schengen zone. Source: www.schengenvisainfo.com

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Tourist arrivals in India through visa on arrival increases at 120.99%

The tourist arrivals through visa on arrival increased at a CAGR of 120.99 per cent during 2010-17 to reach 1,697,175 tourists in 2017, as per a Tourism and Hospitality report by IBEF. Indian government has also released a fresh category of visa – the medical visa or M visa, to encourage medical tourism in India. Foreign tourist arrivals for medical purpose increased from 427,014 in 2016 to 495,056 in 2017(P). In June 2016, the Indian government approved 150 countries under the visa on arrival scheme to attract additional foreign tourists.

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UK scraps passenger landing cards

Starting from May 20, international passengers arriving at UK air and sea ports no longer need to fill out Home Office landing cards. Since 1971, landing cards have been required of all passengers arriving by air or sea from outside the European Economic Area. The card records the purpose of the traveler’s visit and the duration of their stay. It also records whether or not a traveler has brought items into the UK that warrant inspection by custom’s authorities. The decision to scrap landing cards comes after the government announced it was extending the use of e-gates at UK borders to citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Earlier, the gates, which scan e-passports, were reserved for European Economic Area citizens.

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BLS International to accept Lebanon visa applications in India

BLS International has announced that it has been signed up by the Embassy of Lebanon to accept visa applications in India. It has also been authorised to handle the ‘Attestation and Legalisation Services’ for the Embassy. BLS will accept visa applications for travel to Lebanon at 16 centres including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Goa, Jalandhar, Kochi, Lucknow, Raipur, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Trivandrum. Commenting on the new contract Shikhar Agarwal, Jt. Managing Director said, “We are extremely pleased to partner with the Embassy of Lebanon, to provide smooth, efficient and convenient experience for the applicants. BLS as a preferred outsourced visa-processing provider will work together with the Embassy to create a distinguished experience for all its valuable applicants travelling to Lebanon. To ensure this, we are opening 16 centres across India, covering major hubs as well as growing regional cities. Our centres will also facilitate the attestation and legalisation services for the Embassy of Lebanon, exclusively.”   BLS International will accept visa applications for travel to Lebanon at 16 centres including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Goa, Jalandhar, Kochi, Lucknow, Raipur, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Trivandrum.  

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Visa exemption for Indians travelling to Chile holding a valid US Visa or Resident Permit

The Consular Section of the Embassy of Chile in India states that henceforth all Indian travellers holding B1/B2 Visa or Residence Permit (Green Card) from USA, with current validity of six months, do not require a Chilean tourist visa (either Simple Tourism or Multiple Tourism or Multiple-Business).  This is for the period of stay in Chile for tourists up to 90 days and is not applicable to USA Transit Visa.

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India recorded 2.5 million tourist arrivals on e-Visa in 2018

The Bureau of Immigration, under the Home Ministry, India had issued over 2.5 million e-Visa last year, a five-fold jump from 2015, and reduced the main category visa from 26 to 21. Reportedly, the number of e-Visas issued by the Bureau of Immigration has risen from 5.29 lakh in 2015 to 25.15 lakh last year. On the other hand, the number of regular or paper visas issued by Indian missions abroad has come down from 45 lakh to around 35 lakh in the same period. Sub-categories of visa has been reduced from 104 to 65, thus rationalising and simplifying the visa regime and removing confusion. The e-Visa facility covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online visa within 72 hours for travel related to tourism, business, health, medical attendant and conference purposes.    

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India to be among top three nations for South African e-Visa: South African Tourism Minister

Addressing delegates at Indaba 2019, Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, Government of South Africa, informed that India will be among the top three countries e-Visa regime will be extended to, besides China and Nigeria. Talking more on this, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, highlighted the 10 challenges that needed to be looked over in order to boost arrivals to the country. Speaking at the third day of Africa’s largest tourism event, he said, “We must reduce the onerous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists who want to visit our country face. This requires us to streamline our tourist visa regimes. We are in the process of radically overhauling our visa dispensation for the rest of the world and introducing a world-class e-visa system.”

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MOT considers scrapping Group Landing Permit for passengers of e-visa countries

Currently, the GLP facility works as a visa for foreign tourists who are arriving in groups of four or more. Tourists who are sponsored by Indian travel agencies approved by the tourism ministry with a pre-drawn itinerary are granted collective landing permits for a period not exceeding 60 days, with multiple entry facility to enable them visit a neighboring country. Considering the feedback received, a view has been taken that Group Landing Permit facility may be scrapped for passengers of those countries which have been extended e-Visa facility, as its sole purpose has been served and because, e-Visa facility has been presently extended to 166 countries.  

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Medical tourism in India to grow to USD13.3 bn by 2022

Medical tourism in India by international travellers is expected to grow to USD13.3 bn by 2022, according to a report jointly published by KPMG India and Google. About 1.5 million medical tourists are expected to visit the country in 2022. The medical tourism market in India has grown rapidly over the past decade with India becoming one of the largest global medical tourism hubs. Growth has been driven by a rise in international awareness of India’s affordable healthcare, qualified healthcare professional base, coupled with investment into healthcare infrastructure and privately funded healthcare. Foreign tourist arrivals on medical visas are increasing at a CAGR of 51 per cent. Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries are the leading source geographies accounting for more than one-third of visitors. Africa and GCC countries are expected to drive larger inbound volumes in the coming five years. The key growth drivers are alternative medicine (AYUSH), cost competiveness driving medical tourism inflow and quality healthcare and travel options at affordable price points. Indian ayurveda market is growing at approximately 16 per cent CAGR, backed by approximately 1 million traditional medicine doctor base and proactive government promotion. Medical procedures in India cost 70-80 per cent lower compared to average treatment costs in the US. A robust private healthcare sector and budget friendly travel destinations ensure lucrative India travel options for the international tourists.

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