The Indian government is planning to allow processing of visas-on-arrival for citizens of about 180 countries around the world, including the United States, from October 2014.
In fact, the government has only listed 8 countries – all in Africa or South Asia – whose citizens will not be accorded this streamlined process.
Currently, only citizens of 11 countries – Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos and Myanmar – are able to obtain a visa when they enter the country.
The expanded visa-on-arrival program for citizens of 180 countries will be implemented initially at nine major Indian airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum.
The countries that have been excluded from the expanded visa-on arrival program are Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka.
India also plans to allow applications for visas by foreign travelers online from home, resulting in an online confirmation in five working days.
In addition, India has lifted restrictions on operation of Airbus A380 airlines at its airports. Four major gateway airports in the country – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – will be allowed to handle A380s.
Gulf-based airlines such as Emirates and Etihad are expected to be the first to launch A380 flights to India.
In October 2013, India announced plans to relax the visa requirement for 40 countries including the US and most European countries.
The latest move by the Indian government has been widely welcomed as it is expected to lead to more tourist arrivals and less hassle for anyone attempting to get a visa to visit the country. Currently, the Consulate General for India in New York outsources its visa processing service to a firm that is somewhat notorious for excessive delays in processing applications.
An extremely inadequate tourism infrastructure and serious safety concerns – in addition to the hassles involved in obtaining a visa – have been major obstacles in the growth of India as a major tourist attraction.