Tuesday, December 4, 2012

India: Home Secretary Relaxes Post-Mumbai Visa Restrictions

As many of our readers know, following the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which claimed more than 160 lives, and involved ten Pakistani gunmen, the Indian government restricted those possessing multiple-entry visas from re-entering India within a 60-day period, largely to control those traveling back and forth between India and neighboring countries.
Shortly after the attacks, the 60-day restriction was only supposed to apply to tourists with five or ten-year multiple re-entry visas, yet tourists with three-to-six month reentry visas were also required to present detailed itineraries of what they planned to do in neighboring countries in order to obtain a waiver to the sixty-day rule. 
COMMENT: Consequently, India’s tourism ministry welcomed the home ministry’s move to lift the visa restriction last week.
Yet, there are some exceptions to the lifted rule: the two-month rule will still apply to nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh and foreigners of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicity, as well as stateless persons.
Considering that the Mumbai attacks essentially brought tourism to a screeching halt, the government fortunately has witnessed a resurgence of tourism-related revenue in 2011, which brought in US$16.5 billion. In the first six months of 2012, tourist revenue was registered at US$7.9 million.
Despite the above, travelers and tourists to India must keep in mind that indigenous and transnational terrorism continues to be a clear and present threat, as does violent crime.