Visa on arrival for tourists from more countries

Kerala will be a big beneficiary of increasing Tourist Visa on Arrival (T-VoA) to tourists from 11 to 180 nations as it has the added advantage of world-class tourist destination, unique tourist products and two international airports that are gateways to the country.

The decision of the Union government to widen the list and give electronic travel authorisation has come at a time when Kerala Tourism is gearing up to promote the destination and enhance the arrivals to the State apart from the traditional source markets.

The move to roll out red carpet to the holidayers has cheered up the tourism industry of the State that has been witnessing a dip in the tourist arrivals. Kerala Tourism had recently allocated a sum of Rs.53 lakh for campaign in the foreign missions to tap holidayers from the 11 countries which had figured in the list.

30 days

Since August 15, T-VoA is being issued for 30 days to the citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia for sight seeing, recreation and meeting friends on landing in Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin international airports. In addition to the two airports in the State, T-VoA is available at international airports of Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.

The expanded T-VoA list will give a fillip to the burgeoning tourism sector and help stake-holders get tourists round-the-year and repeat tourists. The tourism policy of the State targets 30 lakh foreign tourist arrivals by 2021 in the State.

Growth forecast

Chairman, Confederation, Tourism Industry-Kerala, E.M. Najeeb said the path-breaking step by the Centre will result in doubling the foreign tourist arrivals and the growth of the tourism industry. “Kerala should capitalise on it and go for aggressive marketing in the source markets in the 180 nations that figure in the list and promotion of the destination,” he said. Holidayers from eight "prior reference'' countries including Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and China will not be entitled to this facility announced by the Centre.

With the introduction of electronic ticket authorisation, the holidayers can apply online from anywhere and get confirmation in three days. They can board the flight with the confirmation and complete the formalities on landing at the nine designated airports in the country.

Director, Thiruvananthapuram Airport, V.N. Chandran told The Hindu that the official communication was yet to be received. “The existing infrastructure to provide T-VoA at the airport will be enough to cater to the needs of the enhanced list,” he added.