In a move that could be a dramatic game changer for the Indian events industry, the Ministry of Tourism has proposed to allow e-visas for international visitors attending conferences and meetings in India.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had earlier turned down the Tourism Ministry’s request to grant e-tourist visas to MICE delegates, citing ‘security concerns’. A plan is on the anvil to increase the number of countries under the e-visa umbrella from 113 to 149, a proposal that is likely to receive the approval soon and be implemented by the end of this year. The e-visa for conference delegates is likely to get the nod at the same time, too.
Currently, the visa approval for conference delegates is cumbersome and takes a longer processing time. The conference will have to be organised by a governmental agency or an entity recognised by one of the key departments of the Indian government and the conference or meeting must have sought approval from the MHA to host such an event to qualify. Conference delegates are not allowed to apply for short-term business visit visas which are available to corporate business travellers.
India has benefited from a surge in international visitors taking advantage of the e-visa. Mahesh Sharma, Minister for Tourism and Culture, said: “We have made a proposal to allow the e-visa to corporates from the world over who want to hold short-term meetings and conferences in India, for just the duration of the conference. The segment is a big revenue-generator since most of these people combine business with sight-seeing and shopping. We are likely to get a nod soon.” The relaxation is part of India’s efforts to bring the destination on par with other popular MICE destinations in Asia.
Courtsey – M&IT India