Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Published on Monday, February 23, 2015

Trade takes action over India's new visa system

ABTA is making an official complaint to the Indian High Commission over changes to its visa system.

All visa applicants will now need to book online for an individual appointments at one of the centres, with effect from March 14, 2015.

Only one person is allowed per appointment so for family applications, each member will have to book a separate appointment.

The High Commission of India in London has outsourced its visa process to VFS and said that biometric data collection, including fingerprint data and facial imagery, will be a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants soon.

ABTA confirmed a number of members had expressed concern about the changes.

Head of destinations and sustainability, Nikki White, said: "We are writing to the Indian High Commission expressing our concern about the short notice given concerning this change to visa requirements, requesting that they either reconsider or delay its introduction.

"We are also expressing our concerns about the requirement for individual family members to book separate appointments which could cause considerable unnecessary inconvenience and have the unintended consequence of discouraging travel to India."

The High Commission stated on its website: "All Visa , Passport, OCI, Consular Services at VFS Application Centres in London (Goswell Road, Paddington and Hounslow), Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Newcastle, Belfast, Cardiff, Bristol, Glasgow and Leicester will be granted on the basis of appointments only."

It added that there will be no extra cost for the biometric testing, saying that the VFS fee would be slightly less than the current one with the actual visa fee collected by the Indian government remaining the same.

Agents said that the new measure would severely impact India's tourism and asked for common sense to prevail.

Roy Wills said: "The £100 visa fee for UK visitors to India is already a deterrent and, if clients have to travel long distances to be fingerprinted, they are just going to decide it's too much trouble. And who could blame them?"

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission said: "Those who have not travelled but have the visas before 16 March don't have to come back to us. They can travel without their biometrics.

"However, those who have made an appointment on or after 16 march will have to go to VFS in person for visas. Their biometrics may not be taken as there could be some overlapping period so that the applicants get used to the new system.

"The new changes will in fact streamline the system so that the applicants will know what time they have to go the VFS centre and the waiting time is minimal.  It will not be detrimental to India's tourism as we believe that the numbers will not decrease. 

"As for the family members visiting the centre together, while taking the appointment, there is a short window of time during which appointments of all family members can be taken.

"However, the appointment system is dynamic and online and if that particular slot is taken by someone while the other applicant is online, the particular slot may not be available to a family member.

"We have told  VFS to accommodate such requests of family members of visa cases wherein they can be present at the centre together."

Story Image

Your Comments

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Not worth the bother

    When my late wife and I decided to take our once-in-a-lifetime-trip to India in 2012, the bureaucracy was actually part of the fun. Love the exotic visa in the passport. We were splashing out so the extra cost was of limited importance. Sadly, she died suddenly in 2013 so now it"s a case of where I and I alone fancy going. And you know what, having suffered the proverbial Delhi Belly when in India, I'm less minded to repeat the experience and anyway, we did a long train ride and the usual sights - Taj Mahal, Varanasi, Shimla, Rajasthan, Delhi etc. So this is one more reason to run through my personal solitary bucket list: The Ghan across Australia, the Trans Siberian Railway, New York to San Francisco by Amtrak, the Glacier Express in Switzerland. Their gain, India"s loss.

    By Duncan Stewart, Monday, August 17, 2015

  • India Tourist Visas

    I own a travel agency in Dubai and even here people will choose Sri Lanka or the Indian Ocean for the ease of travel. So India definitely loses custom due to the visa restrictions. Having said that, many of my clients also end up getting Schengen visas and visiting mainland Europe when their initial request was for the UK for the same reason. People don't want to jump through hoops to go on holiday and a family of four having to make 4 appointments is ridiculous. No wonder Sri Lanka is building so many hotels. Make it easy and they will come.....and spend money.......

    By Ian Alden, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

  • TV's Indian Summers

    The new ten part Indian drama will encourage thousands of new visitors but this nonsense will deter tens of thousands. I haven't been to that wonderful country for ten years but I won't jump through those hoops and will spend my leave and my money in more amenable countries.

    By Mike Pitman, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

  • We were to travel to India

    I was about to book an Expensive Exclusive Train Journey in India. We'll go the Thailand for the eastern & Oriental instead The Indian government requirement is insane, but I suppose it is tit for tat for Uk Visa system

    By barry keating, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

  • What abour cruise ships just calling in?

    We booked a passage from Hong Kong sailing in March this year without realising that the ship had a brief call in at Mumbai which has required us to spend &#pound;120 each.without using the cruise companies more expensive option which could have doubled the cost 1)Why can't India have transit visas on arrival for this kind of visit? 2)Why are visas for visitors from UK a different order than most countries? is this a stupid tit for tat exercise. 3) This new system must force cruise co. CEO's to take joint action Regards Peter Salisbury

    By Peter Salisbury, Monday, February 23, 2015

  • Another one off the destination list!

    With new destinations clambering for tourists - this will simply deter the late bookers and family tourists. A shot in the foot all round................

    By Peter Reeve, Monday, February 23, 2015

  • Big deterrent to visit India

    I can see this as being a big deterrent to visit India. We spent 6 weeks there 2 years ago and spent a lot of money but probably would not have gone if there had been all this hassle

    By Allan Kinross, Monday, February 23, 2015

  • It's really rather silly...

    ...that the immigration departments of governments never talk to the tourist departments. This nonsense from India is the latest example of where the tourism department is doing its best to attract visitors and the immigration department is doing its best to keep them out. Visas were originally designed to allow countries to check that certain people whose bona fides might be suspect, are actually admissable. However, for at least 30 years visas are simply a revenue-raising exercise; visas issued on arrival can do no more for security than a traveller's passport does and are simply an easy tax on travellers. If India really needed to check people's admissability then the process would need to be done well in advance and fingerprining, if really needed, would need to be arranged in such a way as to cause the minimum inconvence to travellers. But this doesn't happen simply because immigration authorities believe they have a monopoly and can do as they wish. Were they to take the trouble to talk to their tourism department they would find out that they are wrong; leisure travellers have a choice as to where they go on holiday and many will choose not to go to a country that makes their journey difficult.

    By Richard English, Monday, February 23, 2015

  • Why don't they wait ....

    to implement this 'improvement' until they extend the Indian e-visa (ETA) system to UK passport-holders?

    By Peter Lewis, Monday, February 23, 2015

  • Visa requirements

    I think that the Indian government thinking that this move will not affect tourism have their eyes closed, this is going to cause major disruption to clients personal activities and will reduce tourism substancially.

    By Frederick Patterson, Monday, February 23, 2015

Mole Poll
Have you seen a surge in demand for US trips?


UKinbound are in Manchester for the Annual Convention - What can you expect?

Qatar moved from red to amber list: Phil Dickinson details the growth plans for the destination

Japan - The bucket list destination - five experts describe a life in the day of a visitor

Lonely Planet launch UK Road trip Guide

Ottawa - Capital of Canada is open for business and ready for visitors