Visa Policy: India and the World (Part I)
||8th October 2018
With travel and tourism being considered an important pillar for socio-economic and cultural development in India, the sense of urgency to strengthen tourism has grown. India is ranked 40th out of 138 countries in the 2018 Travel and Tourism Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum. India has jumped 25 places, improving upon its ranking as 65th in 2014. Tourism has been a steady contributor to GDP, accounting for 9.6 per cent of total GDP, and employment generation which is estimated to be around 1.4 million in 2018. New schemes such as ‘Swadesh Darshan Yojana’ and ‘PRASAD’ aimed at creating tourism circuits under specific themes are already influencing tourist footfalls and exchange earnings topped with the required infrastructural boost. Furthermore, the launch of ‘Incredible India 2.0’ this year is aimed at making India an ‘all seasons destination’ and focusses on developing new niches to attract tourists. This is a welcome move since seasonality still acts as an Achilles heel for the Indian tourism sector especially during the period of May to October.
If one looks at successful tourism development in different countries, one of the crucial aspects is how feasible and stress free is the process of getting a visa. A country might have rich tourism resources but if the visa process is tedious, the country will not be able to capitalise these touristic resources. More countries are making their visa process quicker and more accessible. This not only helps in bringing in more revenue, but also results in increasing a country’s soft power dynamics. (India can take a leaf out of foreign countries’ visa policies in this regard…elaborate on this point to connect it to next para and mention that this will be a two-part blog. Part I detailing other countries’ visa policies for India and Part II detailing India’s visa policy towards others.)
Soft power dynamics ...