Kerala is looking forward to enhance the foreign tourist arrivals to the State with the slew of decisions of the Union government, including the move to roll out red carpet to holidayers by granting tourist visa on arrival (T-VoA) to 41 more countries.

Those in the radar of the Union Government for granting T-VoA include the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil, Russia and China. The move comes close on making the God’s Own Country the gateway to India for holidaymakers from 11 countries from August 15.

Kerala Tourism has already initiated steps, including campaign in the foreign missions to tap holidayers from these 11 countries and to make them the source markets in addition to the existing tourism markets.

Despite the financial hardship in the State, three road shows are being organised by Kerala Tourism in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles next week to attract U. S. citizens to the State based on the swelling number of tourist arrivals from the U.S. At present, T-VoA is being issued for 30 days to the citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia for sight seeing, recreation and meeting friends on landing in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.

The United Kingdom tops the list in the case of tourist arrivals to the State followed by France, Germany and the United States. Increasing the list of countries to 41 will give a fillip to the burgeoning tourism sector and help stake-holders get tourists round-the-year.

Minister for Tourism A. P. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that the State will be a big beneficiary of increasing the list of T-VoA as it has an added advantage of two international airports that are gateways to the country.

“Many countries in the list are the source markets for Kerala Tourism. The T-VoA facility will help the repeat tourists. Kerala hopes on taking advantage of this and increasing the inflow in the years ahead,” he added.

The Centre is also going ahead with the road map for setting up an online application system for visas and facilitating visa on arrival for travellers above 60 years of age and those attending conferences. The 16 categories of visas is also to be reduced to three-- employment, business and visitor. The State registered 7.93 lakh foreign tourist arrivals in 2012, earning Rs.4,548 crore in foreign exchange. The tourism policy targets 30-lakh foreign tourist arrivals by 2021 in the State. The country received 6.58 million foreign tourists in 2012, up 4.3 per cent over the previous year.

In addition to the two airports in the State, T-VoA is available at international airports of Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

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