The reopening of e-visa facility for British nationals by India will hopefully usher in better times for inbound tourism – even if it is towards the end of the holiday season.
Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, recently shared a video update confirming that the e-visa facility will again be available for the British nationals travelling to India. “The big news today is we are rolling out e-visas once again. This servie will be made available to you forthwith. System upgrade is underway, and the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK,” he said.
Hopefully, it is not too late for India and the industry to leverage this opportunity – coming in at the end of the tourist season when most Britishers have already planned their holidays. Ajay Prakash, President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), minces no words and says, “It is high time! We have lost half the season. We barely have three more months to grab this inbound opportunity. I know agents who gave up in utter frustration trying to get an Indian visa on a British passport. Today, when everything is electronic, I fail to understand the rationale behind not permitting British passport holders to be eligible for the e-visa facility and that is our biggest source market.”
Dharmendra Singh, Director, Plaisir Hospitality Services, sounds positive. “This will really help us to increase the flow of our business. During the winter, our NRI clients visit India for a minimum 60 days in India and out of 60 days, they travel minimum 30 days for leisure holidays within India, so it will surely help us to increase our business. Our clients from the UK travelled India during COVID also, but they stayed in-house and avoided holidays in India. So, this act of government to issue e-visa is welcome,” he says.
Nagsri Sashidhar, Chief Happiness Officer, NAGSRI-Creating Special Memories, who creates bespoke itineraries for her high-end clients, says, “India has been ready for a long time now to welcome inbound guests, especially from the UK who form a large segment of arrivals. It is a great way to showcase to the world what we are all about. It is extremely important to open the minds of our global travellers and get them to experience and understand for themselves what India really stands for and has to offer. There is one document that is most important, without which no travel can happen. In a tech-savvy world we are all living in today, where convenience and speed supersedes, e-visa is the best thing that can happen for us.”
Rajnish Kaistha, Honorary Secretary, IATO, says that the UK visa was much desired as it has been one of the important source markets. “The British tourists have not been coming to India and with a lot of effort and persuasion by IATO and all the quarters, it was taken up to the level of Piyush Goyal (Union Minister) to the Foreign Minister, Secretary, and almost every important person in the Tourism Ministry. I am glad at least UK e-tourist visa has finally been allowed and better senses prevailed, which will help our tourism. But the fact of the matter is (that) it has come a little too late in the sense that bookings for the period of Christmas and New Year have already been done. There will not be much hope for the British tourists to come at such a short notice.