Q Is India going to introduce Visa on arrival? We are planning to go in April.
A Yes, Ireland has been included among 40 countries that will allow visa on arrival, after a pilot scheme that was tried with Finland, New Zealand and other countries.
The big problem is that there is no target date for this proposal, so if you are gong in April my bet is that it will not be up and running by then.
The means you have to cope with one of the most convoluted visa application systems operated by an embassy based here: an online form which has to be printed out (if you don't apply within three weeks you have to start again), a postal order (no cash or cheques) for €52.
You have to submit your passport to them for a week and then queue in the embassy in Leeson Park in Dublin, to collect your visa and passport between 9.30 and 12am.The visa when you get has a place for a signature from the consular office but does not require a signature. Unfortunately not all border staff are aware of that.
The new online visa will be eligible for 30 days, valid only for a single entry and available only at the international airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Fee is $60 per person.
The plan is to extend it to airports like Goa, Gaya, Chandigarh and Amritsar.
They are also to establish online application system for visas like that operate by Sri Lanka. Tourist visits to Sri Lanka have trebled since they dropped the old visa system. Thailand gets three times the number of tourists that India gets because of the visa on arrival system.
India also plans to bring down the number of categories of visas from the existing 16 to just three – employment, business and visitor.
Q I've always wanted to dive with whale sharks? Where and when should I go?
A Exmouth in Western Australia, about two hours flight north of Perth, is my preferred choice to swim with the largest fish in the world but it is exceedingly expensive to get and stay there, plus your $400 for the dive. Emirates through Dubai are the only one stop option into Perth although Etihad are likely to offer it as a one stop option this year. The season runs mid-March until the end of July. Belize, Osprey Reef near Cairns, Hin Daeng and Richelieu Rock in Thailand and Egypt's resorts also offer whale sharks as part of an overall dive experience.
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