Visit India (Desperate for Foreign Exchange, They’ll Make it Easier For You)

Plummeting foreign exchange earnings prompts government to liberalize visa rules

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A pedestrian walks past a foreign currency exchange in Kolkata on Aug.28, 2013

What’s bad news for India may be good news for visitors. Faced with a dire need for foreign exchange earnings brought on by a sliding rupee, the Indian government is looking to liberalize visa regulations.

At present, only citizens of Bhutan and Nepal enjoy visa-free status in India. Citizens of 21 other countries — including North Korea, Laos and Afghanistan — may obtain visas on arrival. Everyone else has to do it the hard way.

But with a 7% growth in foreign visitor arrivals last year — almost double the average 3.9% growth globally — the government is to come up with a plan to simplify visa applications. According to a recent study, visa liberalization will lead to a 25% increase in tourist arrival. With negative foreign exchange earnings in the last two months, the changes can’t come quick enough.

[Times of India]