Keen to ease travel facilities for Chinese nationals, Tourism Ministry has proposed Visa-on- Arrival provision for them as it senses huge potential for exchanges in this sector.
China is among 30 countries for which the Tourism Ministry wants Visa-on-Arrival facility, a proposal if endorsed, will raise to 41 the number of countries that will have such a facility.
"We have proposed Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) facility for 30 countries including Germany, France, Korea, Russia and China," Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi told PTI in an interview.
Referring to China, he said there is "very good potential" as far as tourism is concerned.
The proposal has to be cleared by Home Ministry, he said.
Under the VoA facility, a traveller can go straight to the intended country and get visa at the airport itself.
Asked whether the VoA facility would be on reciprocal basis, the actor-turned-minister said, "We want reciprocal as well, but that is the next step. First, we want to welcome them."
Currently, India has extended VoA facilities to 11 countries including Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam and Philippines.
Chiranjeevi said easing of visa regime would help boost foreign tourist arrivals. The aim is to ensure that India has at least one per cent share in international tourist arrivals, he said. India's share in world tourist arrivals, at present, is about 0.64 per cent.
Tourism had led to earnings to the tune of Rs 94,487 crore as foreign exchange last fiscal as the sector witnessed growth of 4.3 per cent last year with 65,77,745 foreigners visiting India against 63,09,222 tourists the previous year.
Chiranjeevi said Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is also keen to have more tourists in the country.
"Rahul Gandhi is very keen to have more tourists in the country. I am very happy for his support," he said.
Chiranjeevi, who took charge of the ministry in November last year, said lack of adequate air connectivity was hampering growth of tourism.
"More air connectivity with different countries is the need of the hour," he said, adding that he is pursuing this with the Civil Aviation ministry.
The Minister, who has undertaken visits to various countries to explore possibility of enhancing tourism, said he got the feedback that better air connectivity and easier visa facilities would help increase foreign arrivals.
He said India offers a lot for foreign travellers, including heritage.
"There are many countries from where people want to come to India, at least once in their lifetime, to see Buddhist places here," Chiranjeevi said.
As part of easing facilities for travellers, Chiranjeevi has also proposed condensing the immigration form to make it simpler.
"Our immigration card was so lengthy. Non-English speaking and elderly people were finding it tough...So we took it up...
The new condensed size will be operational soon," he said.
"The new version of the immigration form (under consideration) will be condensed and short, seeking some basic information such as name and travel document passport details," he said.
Maintaining that growth of tourism is crucial for economic growth, Chiranjeevi noted that the sector contributed 6.8 per cent to GDP in the last financial year.