Taj Mahal
Taj MahalUNESCO, Author: M & G Therin-Weise

India has added France, Canada and 29 other countries to its e-Tourist Visa scheme, which simplifies lengthy procedures for international travellers who visit the country for sightseeing, medical treatment, short business visit or meet friends and relatives. 

"The government extended the e-Tourist visa facility to 31 more countries effective from 1 May," The Economic Times said, quoting a statement from the Home Ministry. With the latest addition, the scheme now covers 76 countries. 

The 31 countries included are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cayman Island, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominic an Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, HolySee (Vatican), Honduras, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St Kitts & Nevis and Seychelles.

The scheme, launched in November last year, will include many more countries in the coming months. "The scheme will be extended to more countries in a phased manner. The Government is committed to extend the scheme to 150 countries by the end of this financial year," the statement said. 

The government has issued 1,10,000 visas so far since its launch last year.

The scheme enables the citizens those intend to visit the country to apply for visa online without approaching the Indian Mission.

Upon approval, the visitors would receive an e-mail authorizing their travel to India. After arriving in India, tourists have to produce the authorization letters to the immigration authorities for stamping.

In last December alone, the total number of visas issued under the scheme to 14,083.