Facilities are in place at airports in Kochi, capital city

Infrastructure facilities are in place at the Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin International airport for the issue of tourist visa on arrival (T-VoA) for holidaymakers from 11 countries, making the State a gateway to the country.

Exclusive visa desks, holding area, special enclosure for photographing foreign nationals, foreign exchange counter, proper signage and display, and telephone connections have been put in place by the Airports Authority of India (AAI-) and Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) to kick off T-VoA.

The two airports will join those in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata in issuing T-VoAs.

Citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia can get T-VoA on landing here.

Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Director V.N. Chandran said infrastructure facilities, as mandated by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI), functioning under the Ministry of Home, were created last year itself. “We were awaiting the premier airport in the State to become a gateway to the country,” he said.

T-VoA is expected to give a fillip to the tourism sector in the State and help stake-holders get tourists round the year. The recently unveiled tourism policy of the State targets 30 lakh foreign tourist arrivals by 2021.

Minister for Tourism A.P. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that Union Ministers of State for Home and Civil Aviation Mullappally Ramachandran and K.C. Venugopal respectively helped the State to get the mandatory clearances.

“We hope to launch the T-VoA at the earliest and it will benefit the tourism sector of the State immensely,” he added. The holding area had been created before the Immigration area as specified by the BOI. As the Intelligence Bureau (IB) mans the immigration counters at the two airports, IB officials will also man the exclusive visa desks.

Cochin International Airport Director A.C.K. Nair said they had written to the Union Ministry of Home stating that all facilities were in place. “We are yet to get any information on when the facility will be made operational,” he added.

At the airport, the exclusive foreign exchange counter had not been created as specified by the BOI as the SBT and the Federal Bank had agreed to make arrangements.

Validity of 30 days

A tourist can get a T-VoA with a maximum validity of 30 days. BOI norms say the objectives of the visit should only be recreation, sightseeing, and meeting friends or relatives and ‘no other purpose or activity will be allowed.’

Those applying for the visa should not have a residence or occupation in India and should hold a passport with minimum six-month validity.

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