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India snubs UK with plans to exclude Brits from expedited visa scheme

Mar 11, 2013 9:42 am

Skift Take

Indian authorities likely have one goal in mind with the British exclusion: relaxing visa regulations for their own citizens looking to visit the UK.

— Samantha Shankman

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Authorities in India are reportedly sidelining British holidaymakers from a scheme to allow travellers from Europe to purchase their visas upon arrival in the country.

The plan will permit visitors from Germany, France, Spain, Russia and Poland to bypass the often arduous process of applying for an Indian tourist visa, but – claims the Sunday Times – Britons are to be excluded.

The snub comes despite David Cameron’s recent tour of India, made with the goal of improving relations between the two countries, and is likely to be seen as retaliation for the implementation last year of tighter visa regulations for Indian residents travelling to Britain, which led to a 18 per cent fall in visitors.

Around 800,000 Britons visit India each year, and many complain about the rigmarole of applying for permission to enter the country. It involves an online application and multiple, often lengthy, appointments at the Indian High Commission in London.

In January the cost of a single visa – valid for up to six months – also rose sharply, from £38 to £82, while the “processing fee” increased by £1 to £10.20.

While Indian authorities had previously sought to relax visa rules for British travellers – addressing an unpopular re-entry rule which had prevented travellers from taking two individual trips to the country in quick succession – the increase in costs was strongly criticised by tour operators.

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