Tourism accounts for over US$250 billion of the Indian GDP. With millions of foreigners visiting the country annually, the government expanded the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to citizens of over 40 nationalities in 2014, including for those eligible for visa on arrival, after having allowed only a handful of countries to get those authorizations before. The scheme was extended to 161 countries and renamed e-visas in 2017, making the entry process even easier for even more tourists.
The ease of electronic visa processing has significant benefits for India as the largest tourist destination in South Asia
, according to the latest report from the UN’s World Tourism Organisation
. The report identifies the simplified visa process as the main driver of the Indian tourism market along with an increasing demand from Western markets.
The initiative also seems to have paid off by making over US$105 million in e-visa fees alone in 2017. Foreigners can arrive at 26 designated Indian airports and six seaports with a print out of an e-mail authorizing him or her for Indian travel. E-visas are available for tourism, business, medical purposes and conferences.