India on Thursday launched its e-Tourist visa facility for Chinese nationals for the first time.
Starting July 30, Chinese nationals will be able to arrive at nine Indian airports after applying for tourist visas online. The e-Tourist visa application, which will cost US$ 60, would be processed within four days, Indian officials said.
The hope is that the move will boost Chinese tourist inflows, which have remained low. Chinese travel agencies had, in the past, attributed the low numbers to difficult visa procedures, which required Chinese to apply in person at visa centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as deposit 10,000 RMB (Rs. 1 lakh) as a financial guarantee.
While Chinese outbound tourism has soared in the past decade - more than Protected content Chinese travel overseas every year, spending in excess of $ Protected content - visits to India have remained low. For instance, while around 1.7 lakh Chinese visit India annually for tourism and business - tourists contribute to less than half that number - more than 3 lakh Chinese visit the Maldives.
The Indian Embassy said in a statement the e-visa would allow Chinese, including from the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China, to travel to India "with ease for recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short-duration medical treatment or casual business visit”.