PANAJI: The Centre wants to decrease visa fees and air fares in a bid to boost tourism in India, Union Tourism Minister Shripad Naik said on Sunday.
"We are charging USD 100 as visa fee while other countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives charge only USD 25. We want to bring it on par with these countries which are attracting large chunk of tourists," he said.
The Union government is also working on lowering air fares, which is discouraging tourism growth in the country, he said.
"Air fares for countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives and Malaysia are lower than India. We are working towards reducing the air fares so as to stop the travellers getting diverted to these destinations," he said.
The e-visa facility which was announced for nine airports in the recent Union budget would be extended to other states in a phased manner, the minister said.
"In first phase we have taken nine airports, but in a phased manner it will be extended to other states," Naik said, adding that Goa airport would be covered in the first phase.
Difficulty in getting timely visa has been discouraging travellers from visiting India, he expressed.
Naik refrained from commenting on the off shore casinos' issue, stating that it is a state subject and the Union Tourism Ministry does not deal with it.
The BJP-led state government had recently decided to move the off shore casinos out of Panaji's Mandovi river by 2015 as there was lot of opposition by locals over the casinos being operated near Goa's capital city.