Soon Malaysians going to India need not apply to visas here as it will be isued at the entry points.
The Indian government, in a high-level meeting earlier this month, cleared the initiatives for VOA facility for 180 nations along with the electronic travel authorisation scheme.
However, nationals from eight countries – Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Sri Lanka – will not get the facility and have to apply for visa through the embassy.
“It will be done in stages and not immediately,” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akhbaruddin told The Malaysian Reserve over the phone from New Delhi.
He said the plan needed a lot of infrastructure preparations which would take time.
The issue of VOA has sprung up many times in the past but could not see the light of day, partly due to resistance from Indian intelligence agencies raising security concerns.
These agencies have been persuaded to drop their opposition to the plan.
To some, it is India’s way of reciprocating to the Malaysian government’s decision to allow VOA for Indians travelling to Malaysia from a third country namely Singapore and Thailand.
The Indian government plans to put in place the infrastructure by the next tourist session in October. The VOA and electronic travel authorisation will be initially used at airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum, according to reports from Indian newspapers.
Malaysia provides the highest traffic to India among all Asean countries and it is estimated that more than 150,000 Malaysians travel to India each year.
About 8% of Malaysians have an Indian origin, mostly from southern India and that leads many to travel to South India from Malaysia.
The “golden triangle” comprising New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur is another popular destination among Malaysians. Malaysia is also an important tourist destination for Indians.
Meanwhile, some believe that the facility may not make much difference for Malaysian tourists to India despite being a good move.
“So far, the visa process for Malaysians travelling to India is simple and efficient.
The system is online,” Malaysia’s Tourism director Amran Abdul Rahman told The Malaysian Reserve over the phone from New Delhi.
He noted that the decision was not official yet and his department had not been informed of the move.
“Malaysians by nature are people who want their peace of mind so they would want to have a visa before they travel to another country.
“They would not want to get in a long queue and wait at the airports. Moreover, the airlines will also check the visa status for passengers,” Amran noted.
The Indian High Commission in Malaysia, when asked about the VOA facility for Malaysians, said it had not been informed of any decision yet.
This content is provided by FMT content provider The Malaysian Reserve