India is planning to grant visa on arrival to tourists from Thailand and Malaysia to attract Buddhists to India’s Buddhism enriched heritage. Indian Tourism Minister Subodh Kan Sahai made the announcement regarding India’s planning to extend its visa on arrival facility to more countries like Thailand and Malaysia.
Buddhism is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha. Being the land of origin of Buddhism, India is a center of attraction for Buddhists from around the world. India wants to grow the tourism industry around the Buddhism heritage by making it easier for the Buddhists to visit India.
The Indian Tourism Minister while inaugurating an International Buddhist Conclave in Varanasi said,“India, being the land of origin of Buddhism, is the main attraction for Buddhist tourists from across the globe.”
“The tourism ministry is drawing up plans to attract more tourists from Buddhist countries by providing them special facilities,” Sahai further added.
Thailand and Malaysia have sizable population of Buddhists and hence will be added to the lists of the counties whose nationals are eligible to obtain visa on arrival.
Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia are among the 11 countries allowed for the visa on arrival facility.
Tourism in India is the largest service industry, with a contribution of 6.23% to the national GDP and 8.78% of the total employment in India. Total Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India were 5.78 million in 2010. Indian tourism industry generated about 200 billion US dollars in 2008 which is is expected to grow at a 9.4% annual growth rate and increased to US$375.5 billion by 2018.