Delayed despite completion of all formalities
The State has decided to take up with the Union government the delay in introducing tourist visa on arrival (T-VoA) at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport in spite of completing all the formalities.
The Airports Authority of India, which manages the premier airport, has approached the State government as the Bureau of Immigration (BOI), which functions under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, is yet to give the nod for T-VoA and to make ‘God’s Own Country’ the fifth gateway to India.
Official sources said Airport director V.N. Chandran met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday.
The Chief Minister was informed about the advantages the State would have got in view of the close proximity to Male and Colombo and the benefits the State would have got during the current tourist season.
Mr. Chandy has, in turn, decided to take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran and Union Minister of State for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi, sources said.
The AAI has already set up a facilitation centre, an exclusive visa desk, facilities to take photographs of visiting foreign nationals, a foreign exchange counter, a holding area, signboards and other infrastructure at the international terminal for commencing T-VoA, sources said.
Official sources said the delay was surprising as Union Minister of State for Home Mulappally Ramachandran had given a directive to the BOI to commence T-VoA. Thiruvananthapuram figures along with Goa and Bangalore on the shortlist of the BOI for granting T-VoA.
However, sources said the delay was to facilitat T-VoA at the Kochi airport first.
K.V. Muralidhaan, president of Kerala Travel Agents Association, said the lack of support from the elected representatives from Thiruvananthapuram and the lobby behind kick-starting T-VoA in Kochi were factors delaying the commencement of T-VoA in the State capital in spite of creating all facilities for it.
Holidaymakers from Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia can get T-VoA when it is introduced in Thiruvananthapuram. The Union Ministry of External Affairs has approved it for citizens of France, Germany and Russia.
T-VoA is being extended to more airports as part of a plan of the Union Ministry of Tourism to double the number of foreign tourists visiting the country in three or four years.
State capital to be fifth such gateway to India All facilities ready at airport
State capital to be fifth such gateway to India
All facilities ready at airport