The government is planning on bringing some changes to the e-visa programme, which now covers more than 160 countries under its ambit. This is to help the e-visa programme more visitor friendly. In a meeting with the representatives of the state governments' tourism sector, the Union Minister of Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Patel on Tuesday stated that "A more flexible e-tourist visa rule might come into play. This will include a surge in the fee for the peak season of July to March and a fall in it for the off-season which is a more lean period from April to June."
According to the new proposal, 10 USD will be charged during the lean period of April to June for a 30 Day e-tourist visa and around 25 USD for a period of 30 days during the peak season of July to March. A new 5-year e-visa is set to be introduced and will cost around 80 USD. The fee for one year visa will cost as much as 40 USD. While, the e-visa fee of one-year and five-year issuance for tourists from Japan, Singapore and Sri Lanka, will cost just USD 25.
The citizen of 14 Island nations including Fiji, Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands among them will not be issued a short-duration visa. The citizens of Myanmar, Argentina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa have been exempted but will still have to pay the regular fee for one-year and five-year visas.
The Union Minister, Prahlad Patel said that the effort was aimed at encouraging the influx of foreign tourists visiting India. According to media reports, the proposal has been cleared by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Final clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs is still awaited and might be given soon.
Last year, the Home Ministry under Rajnath Singh introduced a steep hike in the e-visa fee, which concerned the ministry of tourism. It was after the aforementioned hike that the then Union Tourism Minister, KJ Alphons urged then MHA chief Rajnath Singh to reconsider the move.
Concerns were raised by the travel industry then, and representations were sent to enquire why they were not consulted before the announcement.