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EU may ease visa rules for Indians

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The European Union (EU) is looking into the possibility of easing visa requirements for Indian visitors in order to promote tourism.

"European Union wants more flexible (visa) rules for tourists coming from India", said Antonio Tajani, Vice-President, Industry and Entrepreneurship, European Commission.

Tajani also stated that there is a need to promote religious tourism adding that India has a large Catholic population many of whom would be interested in visiting Europe. When asked about security concerns after the easing of visa rules, he stated "terrorists don't need visas to operate".

"It is much more important to back tourism," he said.

He also added that the EU would be willing to organize meetings to promote tourism between India and the EU and suggested airlines could consider offering discounted fares to encourage tourists to travel off-season.

The discussion about the possible easing of visa rules was part of recent talks regarding a proposed comprehensive free trade agreement between India and the EU. Other discussions included having European companies research investment opportunities in India in sectors like defence, infrastructure, hotel business, nuclear and space technology.

Bilateral trade between India and the EU jumped to USD $108 billion in 2011 from USD $83.46 billion in 2010.

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