India launches toll free helpline, reduces visa fee to boost tourism
With a view to further facilitate foreign tourists including Omanis, the Indian government has launched a multilingual 24x7 toll free tourist helpline.
It has also reduced visa fee from April 1 this year. The languages available include Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
The service is available on 1800111363 or on a short code 1363. To boost medical tourism the government has reduced the medical visa fee to RO30.9 (valid up to six months) and RO46.3 (valid up to one year). Business visa fee (valid upto one year) is available at RO46.3. Businesspersons who are required to travel to India frequently at a short notice, can be offered visas valid up to five years for RO96.3.
The government has also revised the tourist visa fee to RO38.6 (valid up to one year) and RO77.1 (valid up to five years). Entry visa fee for people going for training or other purposes will now cost RO30.9 (valid up to six months) and RO46.3 (valid from six months to one year). Entry visa for duration ranging from one year to five years will now cost RO77.1.
The revised visa fees mentioned above does not include RO1.2 (earlier RO1) to ICWF and visa application processing charges of RO1.650 levied by BLS. This is effective from September 1. The Indian government has also modified the existing eTourist visa scheme. eVisa will now be issued for the specific purpose of the visit such as eTourist Visa, eBusiness Visa, and eMedical Visa.
The window for issuing visas under eVisa has been increased from 30 days to 120 days, which means that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of the issue of eVisa. The duration of stay in India under eVisa has also been increased from existing 30 days to 60 days.
In case of eMedical visa, extension can be granted for stay up to six months on case to case basis by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) concerned. While under eTourist visa and eBusiness visa, foreign nationals are now allowed to undertake two visits as against the current provision of single visit, the applicants availing eMedical visa will be issued triple entry visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa. eVisa, except for eMedical Visa, will be non-extendable and non-convertible.
eVisa holders can enter India through three major ports of India: Cochin, Goa, and Mangalore. They are also allowed to enter through 24 airports of India: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum and Varanasi.
The government has decided to grant multiple entry tourist and business visas valid for a period of five years. Each visit under tourist visa, shall not exceed 90 days. Tourist visa holders will also not be required to register themselves. Similarly, multi-entry business visas will also be valid for five years with continuous stay during each visit not to exceed 180 days.
The requirement of registration of business visa holders has also been done away with. In 2016, the Embassy of India in Muscat issued over 72,000 tourist visas and over 900 business visas. To further facilitate Omani patients the Indian government has also decided to open separate counters at immigration counters for speedy and smooth clearance of medical visa holders. This will initially be done at six international airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.