India Could Allow Visa-free Entry for Russian Tourist Groups: Minister

India’s tourism minister Joseph Alphons Kannanthanam has said his country is ready to accept a proposal from Moscow for visa-free entry to Russian tourists groups in India.

In an interview with TASS news agency, the official said that granting a no visa entry to Russian tourist groups is a good idea but in turn Moscow should do the same for the groups of Indian tourist groups visiting Russia.

“I think it is a very good idea but as I said earlier it should be on a bilateral basis. If the Russian government allows Indian tourists to come to Russia on similar terms, we would be happy to allow visa-free entry,” the minister said.

He stressed that his ministry is actively promoting tourism to Russia.

“We have just opened office in Moscow. We are hugely interested in the Russian market. I was told that when we put out six new promotional (videos) on social media, the biggest response came from Russia. We had more than 200 million views in three months,” Kannanthanam said.

“We would like you in turn to launch more campaigns in India so that many more Indians will go (to Russia),” the minister added.

A couple of years ago, Russia proposed introducing a visa-free regime with India for organized tourist groups, but India has not responded to the proposal, Russian media wrote.

Kannanthanam also said that India is considering the possibility of introducing five-year and 10-year multi-entry visas, including for tourists.

“We have entered electronic visas – it’s very simple and convenient, you fill out a form and your visa is on your e-mail in 24 hours. The procedure for obtaining an Indian tourist visa is currently one of the simplest in the world. As I have already said about this and ours the Ministry of the Interior must also introduce reusable long-term visas,” he said.