New visa rules for India will help medical tourism

 

Aiming to attract more tourists and boost trade, the government has approved a new liberalised visa policy that includes a long-term multiple-entry comprehensive visa by merging tourist, business, medical and conference visas into one.

The Union Cabinet has also decided to extend the e-Tourists Visa to eight more countries, taking the total number of countries, which are under cover the scheme to 158.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for liberalisation, simplification and rationalisation of the existing visa regime in India and incremental changes in the visa policy decided by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The approval will make it easier for entry of foreigners for tourism, business and medical purposes. This is expected to stimulate economic growth, plus increase earnings from tourism and medical tourism.

The long-term, multiple-entry visa will be for up to 10 years but under this category the visitor will not be allowed to work or stay permanently.

Another new idea is a five year multiple visa for travel and trade.

Security is tighter as visitors will have to give biometric details and fulfil certain security obligations.

Latest government estimates on medical tourism revenue is USD 3 billion and a target of USD 8 billion by 2020.

Foreign patients travelling to India for medical treatment in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 171,021, 236,898, and 184,298 respectively.

Medical visas will be granted within 48 hours after submitting the application in case of emergency.

Citizens from Pakistan and China will not be covered under the new liberalised visa policy.

Government will set up help desks and immigration counters to help medical tourists.

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