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India working on cheaper visas & air fares

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Tourism-In-IndiaEfforts are being made to control escalating air fares during the holiday season and to slash visa rates in order to compete with cheaper tourism destinations, Tourism Minister Shripad Naik said Saturday.

The union minister of state for tourism (independent charge) was referring to cheaper destinations in South East Asia, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a tourism-related event on the outskirts of Panaji.

Asked if the government was working on ways to rein in escalating air fares to sought after beach tourism destinations like Goa during peak holiday season, Naik said the ministry was “trying to control the air fares”.

During December and January, which represent the peak tourist season in Goa, domestic air fares to and from the state are often in excess of Rs.25,000 which is more than the international airfare to Bangkok, in Thailand, from any Indian metro.

Naik also said the central government was trying to work out a cheaper tourist visa regime, which would make India a more attractive tourism destination and help counter its regional rivals.

Naik said that for a foreign traveller an Indian tourist visa cost $100, but a tourist visa to countries like Maldives or even Sri Lanka costs only $25.

“We are trying to reduce our Indian visa fees,” Naik said.

He also said that Goa’s Dabolim airport would be on top of the list of nine airports in India which have been selected for e-visa facility, as announced in the union budget by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier this week.