India will soon liberalise rules for foreign tourists visiting remote areas across the country.
In an effort to boost tourism and related employment generation in several remote parts of the country, India is set to ease the entry of foreign tourists to restricted areas. The idea is being discussed at various levels and among ministries and authorities tasked with the developing tourism as well as in charge of homeland security, defence, law and order.
A decision is likely to liberalise the entry of foreigners in restricted areas. As per the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958 and the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963 permission is required for foreigners, and in some places for Indians too, to visit remote areas. However, the permissions limit the duration of the visit to the restricted place from one day to a week or maximum ten days. Significantly, the permits are given only to groups and not to individuals. Relaxation is likely to be made for issuing permits to individual tourists in coming weeks.
The Union home ministry which issues the permits is planning to facilitate and expedite the issue. The decision is likely to increase foreign tourist arrivals in these areas which remain off the itineraries for the moment.
List of Restricted Areas
Assam-Manas Bird Sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park, Kamakhya Temple, Jatinga Bird Sanctuary, Guwahati & Sibsagar
Arunachal Pradesh- Itanagar, Ziro, Along, Pasighat, Miao, Namdapha and Sujesa (Puki) Bhalukpong
Manipur-Imphal, Loktak Lake, Keibul Deer Sanctuary, Waithe Lake and Moirang.
Mizoram-Vairangte, Thingdawl and Aizawl
Himachal Pradesh– Gompa-Kaza, Poo-Khab-Sumdho-Dhankar-Tabo, and Orang-Dabling
Nagaland-Dimapur, Kohima, Mokochong and Wokha districts
Sikkim-Rumtek, Gangtok, Zongri in West Sikkim, Phodang and Pamayangtse.
Uttarakhand-Uttar Kashi Districts, Niti Ghati and Kalindi Khai in Chamoli and Nanda Devi Sanctuary and adjoining areas of Milam Glacier
Rajasthan-Western Side – Indo-Pak border and villages Jaisalmer: Amarsagar,Ludrawa, Kuldara, Bada Bagh(black bar), Akal, Sam & Unda.
Andaman Islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea restricts regulates entry to Port Blair; Havelock Island; Long Island; Neil Island; Diglipur; Mayabunder; Rangat, Jolly Bouy, Red skin, South Cinque, Mount Harriet, Madhuban.
Lakshadweep Islands Located in Arabian Sea-Wellington Island, Agatti, Kadmat and Bangaram.
Lastly in scenic Kashmir the restricted areas include various divisions of Leh and Ladakh
Foreign tourists’ arrivals were to the tune of 8 million in 2015. This was 4.4pc more compared to previous year when it stood at 7.6 million year.
According to India’s Tourism ministry the US topped the list of percentage share of foreign tourists’ arrivals among the top 15 source countries with 18.67 per cent, followed by Bangladesh (11.64), UK (11.60), Australia (5.25), Canada (4.23), Russian Federation (3.68) and Malaysia (3.13). Germany’s share was 2.61 per cent while that of China was 2.48 per cent, followed by Sri Lanka (2.39), Singapore (2.01), France (1.99), Japan (1.85), Thailand (1.68) and Pakistan (1.60).