Potential visitors will be required to visit a new application centre
New visa regulations mean that British tourists planning to travel to India will have to undergo biometric testing before their application can be approved.
From March 14, all potential visitors will have to report to an application centre, of which there will be 14 in the UK, to submit biometric data, namely their fingerprints. This comes as a result of the High Commission of India outsourcing the process to a company called VFS.
The change hasn't exactly been welcomed by tour operators to India, who fear it will deter visitors, particularly those travelling as a family.
"Each family member has to lodge an individual application," said Darrren Bridges, director of visa agent Travcour, to the Telegraph. "There is no guarantee that the appointments will be one after the other, so you could have Dad, say, getting his at 9am; Mum getting hers at 10am and so on."
These inconvenient changes are something of a surprise, given that India has recently simplified its visa process for tourists from Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and more. Even with 14 centres in the UK it could prove incredibly difficult for many to attend and, with just over three weeks until the regulations come into force, only three of the centres are currently open.
ABTA - the Association of British Travel Agents - is making an official complaint.
"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," said Nikki White, ABTA head of destinations and sustainability. "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."
Tour operators had already been reporting a drop in bookings to India, and this new requirement is unlikely to reverse the trend.