Electronic Tourist Visa (e-Visa) continues to be the game changer for tourism sector as 1.69 million foreigners visited India in 2017 availing this travel document which is over 57 per cent more than the previous year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Sunday.
Inaugurating the "Paryatan Parv", a 12-day tourism festival at the India Gate lawns, Singh said India is full of cultural diversity but yet it is unbreakable.
"Indian culture is very rich. Its rich civilisation is discussed across the world. Its the only country where followers of all the imparted religions are found.
"There are a great number of languages, dialects and dresses. Its a country full of diversity. Still, it is incredible and unbreakable," Singh said.
He said e-Visa continues to be the game changer for tourism sector and it is now available for citizens of 166 countries and allows visits for business and medical treatment.
"During 2017, a total of 1.69 million foreign tourists arrived on e-Visa as compared to 1.08 million during 2016, registering a blistering growth of 57.2 per cent," he said.
The home minister said the process of obtaining the e-Visa has been simplified significantly by the government. "We have improved the ease of travel significantly through electronic visa," he said.
Singh said tourism sector in India is registering wonderful growth which is significantly higher than the world average growth rate of 7 per cent.
"Foreign tourist arrivals during 2017 were 10.04 million with a growth rate of 14 per cent as compared to 2016," he said.
"The country is full of traditions and customs. it is being developed as a tourist destination. The government is trying to increase tourism's contribution in the GDP from seven to 10 per cent," Singh said.
The home minister hoped the festival would capture the imagination of the people by showcasing the wide range of India's rich and resplendent culture.
Under the e-visa scheme, an applicant, when an online application is submitted, receives an e-mail authorising him or her to travel to India after it has been approved.
The tourist can travel with a print-out of this authorisation.
On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then allow the entry into the country.
The e-Visa scheme also covers business and medical categories, apart from tourism.
Visitors on e-Visa could stay in India for two months.
Speaking at the occasion, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, K J Alphons, said that the country was largest growing in the tourism industry.
According to the ministry, 'Paryatan Parv' will have three main components -- 'Dekho Apna Desh', 'Tourism for All' and 'Tourism and Governance'.
The event will focus on domestic tourists especially to sensitise youth, the ministry said that India has a huge variety of destinations many of which are yet to be promoted.
Eighteen theme-based pavilions will be set up by states. It would also have 54 food stalls, craft bazaar and exhibitions will be held there.
This time, the ministry has also included yoga in the events. Its demonstration, training, therapy would be held by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga everyday on the Rajpath lawns.