India set to touch magical 10 million FTA figure by 2018, says Tourism Secretary

It had taken precisely 50 years for independent India to touch the milestone of 5 million FTA (foreign tourist arrivals) when it had crossed this psychological benchmark in 2007. But the addition of next five million which will take the arrival numbers over 10 million may happen much sooner – in 11 years to be precise. Backed by a gradually unfolding relaxed visa regime and India being seen as a happening country again, the tourism ministry is hopeful that 10 million FTA figure will be touched by 2018.

“ We are hopeful of crossing 10 million FTA figure in ​the next three years,” Tourism Secretary Lalit Panwar told TourismFirst on the sidelines of a recently held seminar in Delhi. As per government statistics, the country had received about 7.4 million foreign tourists last year and in the current year, it has recorded a surge of around 9 percent in initial months.According to Panwar, the targeted increment in arrival numbers in next three years will get a major boost from the liberalised visa process best identified as e-TV (electronic tourist visa) launched around November end last year. The facility has been extended to 77 countries now from a​n earlier list of 12 (Visa-on-arrival) before November 2014 and according to the tourism secretary the preliminary results are encouraging. “Going by the last count, over 1,51000 foreign tourists have availed e-TV facility since its launch. The icing on the cake is: tourists from our long-haul source markets like the US, Russia, Germany and Australia are contributing to the rising e-TV number,” Panwar pointed out.

The tourism secretary also confirmed that the government will achieve its target of extending e-TV facility to 150 countries before 31st March in a phased manner and the next lot of selected countries will be announced before the end of next month.

By Ritwik Sinha

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