India’s Improved E-Visa Policy Lets Travelers Stay Twice as Long
India's Ministry of Home Affairs has made it easier for tourists to visit the south Asian nation.
Many people don't know that foreign tourists using the country's e-visa service are able to stay for 60 days, rather than 30 days. Under the regulations, people with tourist or business e-visas are also allowed double entries, while people with medical e-visas can enter up to three times on a single visa.
The changes were a bid to boost tourism and hospitality in India, where the services industry has an estimated value of $270 billion. Citizens of 166 countries (including the US, Canada and Mexico) are eligible to obtain an e-visa by applying online without going through the hassle of visiting the consulate, provided they are applying for short-term visas for tourism, business, health reasons or to attend a conference.
Travelers have been taking advantage of the e-visa system in droves. According to a statement from the Government of India's Press Information Bureau, "the number of e-visas issued has seen a tremendous growth during the last four years."
Currently, about 40% of the total number of visas issued are now e-visas and that figure is expected to rise to 50%.
The e-visa extension is great for travelers, especially since you can easily spend two months exploring the massive nation and hardly scratch the surface.
Plus, there have been a lot of exciting new developments in India. A number of new hotels that cropped up within the last few years are encouraging travelers to get off the path of the typical "Golden Triangle" route, which connects Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The W Goa opened in 2017, for example, as did the Oberoi Sukhvilas, which has ultra-luxurious glamping tents in the Siswan forest range just outside of Chandigarh (the city planned by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret after the partition with Pakistan).
And India has long been a destination famous for wellness, but this year, a new resort by Taj in Rishikesh — where the Beatles took part in an advanced Transcendental Mediation course at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — will bring next-level luxury to this spiritual city in the Himalayas. The resort will begin taking reservations in March.
The luxury hotel group has been on a tear, with plans to open the Taj Theog Resort & Spa in Shimla, the colonial outpost at the base of the Himalayas, around the same time in March. Most recently, Taj opened the Aravali Resort & Spa in Udaipur, known as the city of lakes in Rajasthan, and the Exotica Resort & Spa in the Andaman Islands.
Aside from hotels, the cruise line Uniworld has just launched a new wellness-oriented cruise sailing the Ganges River. The 12-day cruise includes sunrise yoga sessions, trips to Hindu temples and a visit to an artisan village, among other excursions.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the changes would go into effect on April 1st. The 60-day e-visa policy has actually been in effect since July 2017.