India's issuance of visas to the people of Bangladesh has marked a sharp rise in recent months as the two neighbouring countries are considering people-to-people contacts as the biggest strength to bolster ties.
Bangladeshi people constitute the largest number of visitors to India and Indian High Commission in Dhaka issued 976,000 visas in 2016 and India expect this to grow to about 1.4 million visas in 2017, a diplomat told UNB on Wednesday.
According to Press Information Bureau of India, the percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during September 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh 29.65 per cent, while 10.24 per cent from the USA followed by UK (7.04 per cent) Sri Lanka (3.98 per cent), Australia (3.50 per cent), Malaysia (3.32 per cent), Germany (2.57 per cent), Japan (2.50 per cent), China (2.46 per cent), Canada (2.40 per cent), Nepal (2.30 per cent), France (1.86 per cent), Singapore (1.77 per cent), South Korea (1.40 per cent) and Afghanistan (1.21 per cent).
The number of FTAs in September was 723,000 as compared to FTAs of 608,000 in September, 2016 and 543,000 in September 2015.
According to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the High Commission's visa section issued 750,000 visas in 2015, 933,000 visas in 2016 and 1.02 million visas by September 2017.
"The steps we've taken to launch more direct train and bus services will greatly ease travel between our nations. We welcome youth, media and academic exchanges," said Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her Dhaka visit.
She said they are offering five-year multiple entry visas, and are working on a scheme for their medical treatment in India.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla recently said the strength and soul of bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and India is in the strong people-to-people contacts.
He said a liberalised visa policy and a number of measures to ease access to Indian visa for Bangladesh nationals have boosted the movement of Bangladesh nationals to India who now constitute the largest number of foreign tourists to India.
With the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, medical visas have further been liberalised to allow people from Bangladesh to visit India for diagnosis as well.