MHA rejects Tourism Min proposal
Citing security concerns, the Ministry of Home Affairs has turned down a Tourism Ministry proposal to do away with obtaining biometric data of foreigners wanting to travel to India on normal tourist visa before issuance of the travel document to them.
According to official sources, the Home Ministry, which is preparing to meet the target of extending e-tourist visas to additional 73 countries by the end of the current fiscal, has rejected the Tourism Ministry’s request with regard to normal tourist visa seekers, saying it could pose a threat to national security. Tourism secretary Lalit K Panwar recently wrote to Home Secretary L C Goyal bringing to his notice two issues -- notification for issuance of e-tourist visa for 73 countries and collection of biometric information of foreign nationals at the port of arrival.
In the letter, the tourism secretary said the requirement of obtaining biometric data before issuing regular visa was acting as a dampener for the prospective international tourists wanting to visit India.
Referring to a recent meeting of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar with Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on June 15, Panwar said, “Compulsion of biometrics before issue of normal visa was acting as a dampener for the prospective international tourists wishing to visit India.”
Panwar said Jaishankar was of the view that collecting biometrics before issuing a normal visa to potential tourists should be discontinued and these should be obtained at the point of immigration in the country, only if the Home Ministry agreed to the proposal.
“The travel industry in our country as well as globally has been requesting Tourism Ministry to take up the issue with Government and issue directions for biometrics of the tourists (with normal visa) at the point of arrival in the host country,” the letter said. However, the Home Ministry feels the immigration authorities were already burdened with the task of taking the biometric data of foreigners travelling on e-tourist visas.
Maintaining that issuance of visas had <g data-gr-id="24">abeen</g> outsourced in many countries, MHA asked the Tourism Ministry to promote e-Visa among tourists from countries where the facility has been extended under the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) system.