Bangladesh is going to launch the largest single-country visa application centre in Kolkata to attract more travellers from the eastern states of India, said reports in Indian media.
The new initiative will greatly benefit travellers from the eastern region of India and help boost regional tourism, said the stakeholders.
Around 80% of inbound visitors in Bangladesh come from India, said Dr Jabed Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Bangladesh Tourism Board.
"We have a demand to open such visa application centres in neighbouring Indian states. Setting up such centres will help to fulfil our target," he added.
Requesting anonymity, an official of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata told TBS, "We do not have any official declaration from foreign ministry on the issue. So, we will not make any comments right now."
Several Indian newspapers reported that the brand new, state of the art visa application centre has 10 counters for accepting all categories of visas for Bangladesh, including investor, intern, tourist, diplomatic, research student, NGO, government delegate, journalist, business, employment and work permit, tourist and family.
"The new visa application centre, which is spread over 13,000 sq ft is the largest single country visa application facility in Salt Lake, Kolkata, will ensure applicants a seamless experience in acquiring their visas to travel to Bangladesh. The processing fee for all categories of visas is Rs826, including GST per application and no additional visa fee is applicable for Indians applying for the visas to Bangladesh," reported The Print on Tuesday.
The new visa application centre will ensure an enhanced applicant-friendly experience compared to the earlier system under which tourists had to submit their applications and documents directly at the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission that had only three counters, reported The Print.
It was not uncommon to see long queues on the street outside the Deputy High Commission premises, with people sometimes waiting all night to ensure a place in the queue.
Also, brokers and agents used to charge as much as 12,500 rupees for a visa fee which will now be reduced to only 826 rupees.
Masud Hossain, an inbound tour operator, said, "More centres should be opened for tourists from Meghalaya, Guwahati, Assam, and Shillong."
In 2018, an integrated Indian Visa Application Centre was launched at the Jamuna Future Park in Dhaka to ease the visa process for India-bound Bangladeshi tourists.