Tourism to Benefit from Extension of VoA Facility

Published: 27th August 2015 04:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2015 04:28 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: With the Centre extending the e-tourist visa facility to 36 more countries, Kerala will witness an increase in arrival tourists from the Gulf region, Germany, UK and the US, who prefer the State for holidaying. In the recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the arrival of Arabs during the summer season. The biggest attractions for them are the hilly areas of Kerala, including Munnar and Wayanad, and the backwaters.

Now, the UAE and Oman have also been included in the list of countries that can avail the visa on arrival (VoA) facility, bringing the total number of countries in this category to 113.In Kerala, the VoA facility has been made available at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) and the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. Travel Agents Federation of India - Kerala Chapter president Paulose K Mathew said the documentation of visa has become easier now. Earlier, citizens of Gulf countries used to visit the US and UK during summer. Recently, the trend of visiting Kerala has caught up among them.

Ever since the VoA facility was introduced at the Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports two years ago, there has been a substantial increase in tourist flow. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, there was a 21.87 per cent annual increase in international traffic at the CIAL. In the previous fiscal year, international passenger traffic had increased to 37.6 lakh from 32.7 lakh, marking a 14.5 per cent growth. With the addition of more countries into the VoA fold, the tourist flow is expected to increase in the next season.According to Paulose, after introduction of the VoA facility, arrival of tourists at the airports registered an average increase of 10 per cent. “With the addition of more countries, a stronger growth is expected in the coming months,” he said.

  Kerala Travel Mart president Abraham George, who is also managing director of  Intersight Tours and Travels, said the VoA facility would benefit Kerala greatly by attracting more visitors from the Gulf region, as Arabs prefer to visit Kerala when it is summer season in the Gulf.

“Tourists from the Gulf region mostly visit Kerala in the April-September period. They come with their families and stay here for long periods,” he said.

The spending capacity of Arabs is very high, which will help Kerala hotels make a good income. Now, Kerala can market tourism in the Gulf countries highlighting the simple procedures involved in availing visa.

The countries that have been added in to the VoA list include Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China-SAR Hong Kong, China- SAR Macau, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania Luxembourg, Malta, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue Island. 

According to Paulose, the inclusion of the smaller countries will benefit tourism sector.

VoA Facility in Kerala

In Kerala, the VoA facility has been made available at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) and the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.


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