E-Visa system will help more tourists come to India, says Thomas Cook (India) MD
The electronic Visa (e-Visa) system, which is awaiting formal clearance by the Union Government, has the potential to double inbound tourist traffic to 8 million within a few years , according to a top executive of Thomas Cook. At about 4 million, inbound tourist flow is low compared to even smaller countries such as Singapore or France. “The Narendra Modi-led Government needs to address this issue immediately as it has the potential to bring in a multiplier effect on the tourism traffic flow,” Madhavan Menon, Managing Director of Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, told Business Line during a visit to Hyderabad. Excerpts: .
How do you see the tourist inflow going up?
India needs to do a lot to boost the tourism sector, which has the potential to be a big contributor to the country’s GDP. I feel we have not accorded enough importance to the tourism sector.
This is the right time for the new Government to address issues relating to tourism. During the campaign, Narendra Modi had hinted at quick decision-making and this is the time to deliver on that promise. The e-Visa issue process takes barely three days, without a person having to go to the physical office.
This convenient feature will encourage more tourists to India, as the country has a lot to offer to them. The e-Visa issue is struck at the approval level. Hope the new Government clears it soon.
E-Visa is one aspect, probably a lot more needs to be done?
E-Visa is good. But visa on arrival could cause lot of problems as airports may find it hard to handle heavy flow at one go. Just imagine if Airbus A-380 lands in Mumbai or Hyderabad airport and many of them seek visa on arrival. It will simply clog the airport. Apart from this, we need to develop the tourist infrastructure and work towards bringing down the taxes for hospitality sector and taxes for aviation turbine fuel. While lower taxes in hotels will bring down room tariffs, lower tax on jet fuel will bring down the cost of air travel.
Is Thomas Cook planning any more buys in India?
We continue to evaluate good opportunities. Fairfax (which owns Thomas Cook India through a Mauritius-based subsidiary) has invested in excess of $30 billion worldwide. The company is in the process of initiating the open offer for Sterling and expects to complete the acquisition by the year-end.
"Bring down taxes on hospitality sector, jet fuel to improve tourist ...