Tourism Ministry Seeks To Ease Sikkim, Arunachal Travel For Foreigners

For now, foreigners need to apply for travel documents such as the protected area permit (PAP) and the restricted area permit (RAP)

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Tourism Ministry Seeks To Ease Sikkim, Arunachal Travel For Foreigners

Foreigners need special documents to travel to parts of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh


New Delhi:  The tourism ministry has proposed removing restrictions for foreigners who want to travel to Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Sikkim, minister of state for tourism KJ Alphons has said. The restrictions can be removed only if the home ministry and the defence ministries approve the proposal.

For now, foreigners need to apply for travel documents such as the protected area permit (PAP) and the restricted area permit (RAP). Some areas in the north-east are considered sensitive due to a long history of insurgency in the region. 

The centre has maintained that the travel restrictions are needed to stop subversive elements from reaching sensitive areas and threatening national security.

"The ministry has proposed opening up the north-east for tourists. In the last six months the government has opened up many restricted areas and if the plan in the north-east works, then many more border areas can be opened up," Mr Alphons told news agency Press Trust of India.

The tourism ministry proposed the plan on May 17 at a meeting with senior home and defence ministry officers.
 
alphons

KJ Alphons says the tourism ministry has proposed opening up the north-east for tourists

"The states too need to be consulted and as of now we cannot give a deadline for this. However, over the past six months we have been working very fast on this," Mr Alphons said.

The tourism minister said they also plan to propose removal of travel restrictions from border areas in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.

Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland are excluded from the protected area permit rule till December 2022, the home ministry has said.

The whole of Arunachal Pradesh is under the protected area permit rule, and no foreigner can enter or stay in the state without the document.

In March, junior home minister Kiren Rijiju had also said the government is working to ease travel rules for foreigners within India. However, citizens from Pakistan and China may still need to apply for the permit even if the rules are eased, officials had said.

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