Foreign Tourists Current Affairs
Government has allowed foreign tourists to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands without any restrictions. In this regard, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has modified its earlier order which made it mandatory for foreign tourists to register with Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) within 24 hours of their arrival.
The step was taken on suggestion made by Union Tourism Ministry to boost foreign tourist arrivals in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This order follows earlier directive which allowed foreigners to visit 29 inhabited and 11 uninhabited islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were prohibited for visitors under Foreigners (Restricted Area) Order, 1963, without any restrictions.
However, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries will continue to require Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit Union Territory. Moreover, separate approvals of competent authority will continue to be required for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves as at present. Ministry of Tourism has also proposed that travel restrictions be removed from border areas in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed six-decade-old protected area permit (PAP) regime to allow foreign tourists to access border areas of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1, 2018 with protected area permit (PAP). The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the states. However, citizens from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, will remain to be banned from all PAP areas, including Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.
Protected areas Regime and Protected area permit (PAP)
Under Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between Inner line and International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas. The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under protected area regime while others under restricted area regime. As per MHA’s December 2010 circular, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 2011, subject to some conditions.
Guidelines: Under Protected areas Regime, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit. Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit (PAP) from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.
Permit issuing Authority: Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without prior approval of MHA to facilitate foreign tourists subject to certain exceptions In cases of foreign diplomats, including members of United Nations (UN) and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). In cases of citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit can be issued without prior approval of MHA.