Indian visa costs to soar
The cost of a tourist visa for India is to increase sharply for British travellers this week.
The fee for a single visa – valid for up to six months – will rise to £82 on Thursday, up from £38, while the “processing fee” will also increase by £1 to £10.20.
While Indian authorities have recently 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 latest change has been strongly criticised by tour operators.
It means the cost of a holiday to India for a family of four will be more than £200 more expensive. Should travellers ask their tour operator to organise their visa applications, a further charge – typically £30 – will be added. This is a popular option – Telegraph Travel readers have often complained about the laborious process of obtaining an Indian visa, which involves an online application and multiple, lengthy appointments at the Indian High Commission in London.
“It’s a case of one step forwards, two steps backwards,” said Rajeev Manral of Indus Tours and Travel, an India specialist. “The changes to the re-entry rules were encouraging, but I’m sure this increase is going to have a serious impact.”
He added: “Visa applications are long and cumbersome, and most of the time the website is not working properly. It is a waste of time for travellers and for tour operators who offer to process applications on their behalf.”
As well as increasing visa costs, the latest rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD) – paid by all travellers flying from Britain, and effective from April – will see the cost of flying to India increase by £8 per person.
David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: “We have seen encouraging developments, with attempts to liberalise visa procedures, but India is becoming increasingly expensive.
“Further measures to make it easier for travellers to enter the country are a key priority. It is also important to make the visa process faster and ultimately electronic, so that travellers who want to come to the country do not face unnecessary obstacles.”
Around six million tourists visit India each year, including 800,000 from Britain.