Indian government officials are assessing whether India may reopen its borders to overseas tourists, as countrywide incidences of Covid-19 have generally remained constant over the last few weeks, according to those familiar with the situation. An announcement could be made within the next 10 days, reports Hindustan Times.
Since the initial outbreak of the deadly disease in the country one and a half years ago, no India tourist visa for foreign tourists have been issued.
The decision to reopen coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Saturday announcement that the administration intends to allow international tourists to enter Goa. “Tourism can resume in the coming tourism season just like before. We are planning to allow foreign tourists to come here… This will be possible when we give as much importance to corona precautions as much as we have given for vaccinations. It is our duty,” he said while interacting with Goa healthcare workers.
Senior officials from the Union Home Ministry are in talks with stakeholders on when the Indian economy would reopen to tourists, among other things.
There are even discussions about waiving visa fees for the first 500,000 foreign tourists who apply. The free India tourist visa system will be in effect until March 31, 2022, or sooner if the 500,000-person threshold is reached earlier. According to one of the ministry officials, the total financial impact will be Rs. 100 crore.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi, too, mentioned the free-visa initiative, stating that the federal government was taking steps to “welcome foreign tourists back”.
This would aid in the recovery of the tourism, hotel, and aviation sectors, which have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic since the first statewide lockdown was announced in March 2020, according to the official.
The price of a month-long e-tourist visa varies by nation, but it usually costs around $25 (Rs. 1,842). A year’s worth of multiple entrance visas costs around $40 (around Rs. 3,000).
Officials from the ministry also stated they are evaluating the restrictions for approving overseas travel, such as whether visas should be issued solely to those who have been vaccinated and whether travelers from countries with Covid-19 outbreaks should be excluded. Since March 2020, all planned foreign flights have been banned in India, while exceptional flights under bilateral “air bubble” agreements — under which carriers from two nations can undertake flights — continue to operate.
The reopening of foreign tourism in India may be eased out, according to a second official familiar with the situation.
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