Kerala government today asked the Centre to continue with the e-visa facility for those visiting the state from Saudi Arabia, saying the move making bio-metric data compulsory for them would hit the state’s tourism prospects.
State Tourism Minister A C Moideen said he had written to Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma in this regard.
Around five lakh Saudi holidayers visit the state every year, he said, adding the Centre’s recent decision making bio-metric data compulsory for them would adversely impact the state’s tourism prospects.
“The Centre had made bio-metric data compulsory at a time when the state is eyeing more tourists from Saudi Arabia. The applicant has to appear directly to get the bio-metric visa issued. But, it is not a must for e-visa,” he said in the letter to Sharma.
There were chances that the Saudi tourists may opt for other countries, including neighbouring Sri Lanka, in view of the complexities in applying for bio-metric visas.
“This will adversely impact the state’s tourism revenue. So, Saudi Arabia should also be included among those countries which are exempted from bio-metric visas and should issue e-visas to them,” he added.