FTA tourist arrivals foreigners india, e-tourists, foreign tourists
Foreign tourists take a picture of a sea turtle as it returns to the sea after nesting at the Rishikulya beach, near Ganjam, 180 km (112 miles) south of Indian southeastern city of Bhubaneswar [Representational Image].Reuters file

More and more foreign tourists are using e-tourist visas to visit India. In March this year, 1,15,677 tourists availed of the facility, marking a four-fold increase from 25,851 in March 2015, according to tourism ministry data released Tuesday. 

Tourists from the U.K. used the facility most, followed by the U.S.,  the Russian Federation, France and Germany; almost 60 percent of the e-tourist visas were availed of by tourists from these countries, with the U.K. having the maximum share of 27.74 percent.

From a destination viewpoint, almost half (46.76 percent) of the arrivals were at the New Delhi airport, followed by Mumbai airport (18.75 percent) and Goa airport (11.11 percent). 

India introduced e-tourist visas in November 2014; the scheme was extended to citizens of 37 countries in February this year, taking the total to 150 such countries. 

The government is expected to issue over 10 lakh e-tourist visas this year.

In calendar year 2015, 445,300 foreign tourists visited India on e-tourist visas, as against 39,046 in 2014. Of the 445,300 visitors, 49,626 foreign tourists visited Goa on such visas, the Goan tourism ministry had said last month. 

Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) to India rose 11.3 percent in February this year to 8.47 lakh from 7.61 lakh visitors in February 2015, while foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) rose 6.33 percent to $1.99 billion from $1.87 billion in February 2015.

Between January and December 2015, 80.16 lakh foreign tourists visited India, marking an increase of 4.4% over 76.79 lakh tourists in calendar year 2014.

However, FEEs were down 2.8 percent to $19.67 billion from $20.23 billion in 2014, according to a statement by the tourism ministry in January this year.