Russian tourist inflow expected as India eases visa regime
Introduction of easier visa regime with India for Russians will increase the number of Russian tourists in Indian resorts, the Association of Russian Tour Operators (ATOR) said on Friday.
On February 5, the Indian government expanded the list of countries whose citizens can get visas upon arrival at the airport. The list now includes 180 countries, among them Russia. The rule will be in force from October 2014 in nine airports, including the International Indira Ghandi Airport in Delhi, Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai and Dabolim in Goa. Tourists should fill in the online form and pay the necessary duty. Within three days they will get an electronic visa that will be confirmed at the airport.
According to ATOR, “much will depend on the term” of validity. Now Russian tourists get a six-month visa with a possibility of two visits, and many use it for long vacations in Goa. The new visa will be valid for 30 days, the Indian Planning Commission reports, yet tour operators believe that an easier visa procedure will anyway increase the tourist flow from Russia.
Meanwhile, the Russian Union of the Travel Industry says tour operators are concerned about the technical side, about whether India would be able to synchronize tourists’ passing the passport control and getting visas, open a sufficient amount of desks, and arrange confirmation of virtual applications for real customs officers, that is “whether they will create comfortable operations that will prevent long lines at the airports”.
According to the Union, about 110,000 Russian tourists visited India in 2012, and more than 100,000 came to India over nine months of 2013.