Visa-on-arrival boost for Kerala Tourism: Oommen Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 28 : The introduction of tourist visa-on-arrival (T-VoA) facility at Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports will help attract more foreign visitors to the state, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Wednesday.

T-VoA is currently available for citizens of 11 countries -- Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

T-VoA allows tourists from these nations to request for a visa upon their arrival at either of the two airports. The fee is 60 US dollars and the visa is valid for up to 30 days. It will be issued twice a year and is for those coming for recreation, sightseeing and meeting friends or relatives.

Those applying should not have a residence or occupation in India. They should have a passport with a minimum validity of six months and produce proof of confirmed hotel booking and return tickets when applying for T-VoA.

Chandy reviewed the arrangements at the special T-VoA counter Wednesday.

The facility at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport became operational Aug 15.

T-VoA was rolled out in the first phase in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai airports. The facility is also available at Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Tourist arrivals from Japan were up 56 per cent in the past five years to 11,440 in 2012 while arrivals from Finland more than doubled over the period to 5,160 last year.

Tourist arrivals from New Zealand, Philippines and Singapore have also gone up between 75 and 90 per cent since 2008.

"The VoA facility has been a long-standing demand from Kerala Tourism and now we intend to take full advantage of it," said Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar.

He added: "The Department of Tourism will take the campaign to these countries. We will take part in travel fairs and present our road shows to tell people there how convenient visiting Kerala is."

The minister said: "The scheme will help Kerala Tourism achieve target of 30 lakh foreign tourists by 2021."

Kerala saw 789,698 foreign tourist arrivals in 2012 while foreign exchange earnings touched Rs.4,548 crore.

--IANS (Posted on 28-08-2013)

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