passport

The government issued 15,557 e-tourist visas in the month of June 2015 registering a growth of 636.6% compared to 2,112 visas it issued in June 2014. The government attributed the high growth in e-tourist visas to the extension of the facility to 76 countries as opposed to the earlier coverage of 12 countries.

During January-June, 2015 a total of 1,26,214 tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 11,953 during January-June, 2014 registering a growth of 955.9%, the government said in a release

The top ten countries using the e-tourist visa facility in June 2015 were USA (41.71%), Australia (9.67%), Germany (7.21%), Canada (4.86%), Republic of Korea (4.29%), France (3.38%), Singapore (2.73%), UAE (2.70%), Russian Federation (2.53%) and Mexico (2.47%).

The percentage shares of different ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during  June 2015 were New Delhi (43.11%), Mumbai (22.27%), Bengaluru (11.70%), Chennai (9.83%), Hyderabad (4.85%), Kochi (3.83%), Kolkata (2.89%), Trivandrum (1.14%) and Goa (0.38%).

In his budget speech, union finance minister Arun Jaitley had said the government would be extending the e-tourist visas to 150 countries in a bid to boost tourism in India.

In June 2015, the government added 31 more countries which could get e-tourist visas and added 9 more airports (Jaipur, Amritsar, Gaya, Lucknow, Trichy, Varanasi and Ahmedabad) to issue the facility. The airports have been chosen due to the large number of foreign tourists they receive on account of their proximity to major tourist spots.

Passport services

– Earlier this week, the home ministry said that police verification for the issuing or renewal of passports will soon be moved online, allowing the procedure to be completed within a week instead of the standard 20 days. According to a home ministry official, it will take 3-4 months to integrate the databases and have the technical infrastructure in place, with the system expected to go online by November.

– In March last year, the Ministry of External Affairs had said it would launch passport related services through the one lakh Common Services Centers (CSC) in rural areas. The CSCs were to help applicants with filing and uploading of forms, payment of applicable fees and scheduling of appointment for the visit to the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), at a fee not exceeding Rs 100.

Image source: Flickr user Baigal Byamba