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World India to allow foreign tourists after 19 months

07:51  15 october  2021
07:51  15 october  2021 Source:   bbc.com

India to re-open for tourists from October 15

  India to re-open for tourists from October 15 India will re-open for tourists from October 15 after being closed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Thursday. The country had suspended all visas for foreigners in March 2020 when the pandemic took off as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government imposed a strict lockdown. "After considering various inputs, the MHA (home ministry) has decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021," the home ministry said in a statement.

Image caption, Foreign tourists will be allowed into the country for the first time in 19 months . India is set to reopen its borders to overseas travellers as it relaxes Covid-related restrictions amid a drop in daily infections. Foreign tourists who land in India on Friday will be the first to come into the country in 19 months . No tourist visas have been issued since March 2020 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government shut the country's borders to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. In the past few months though, some visas for diplomats and foreign business officials have been reinstated.

Many tourists come to India to develop a deeper appreciation for their own spirituality, whether at a meditation or yoga retreat or simply through visiting the local holy sites. There is also a wide variety of foods, from moderately spicy northern curries to the burning hot flavors of the South. Top scientific advisers to the Indian government have said that given that Covid- 19 is a global issue, the consequences will be devastating if the international community does help India to control the pandemic ASAP.

India is set to reopen its borders to overseas travellers as it relaxes Covid-related restrictions amid a drop in daily infections.

Foreign tourists will be allowed into the country for the first time in 19 months © Getty Images Foreign tourists will be allowed into the country for the first time in 19 months

Starting Friday, the country will grant tourist visas to travellers arriving on chartered flights.

The facility will be extended to those arriving on commercial flights from 15 November.

Foreign tourists who land in India on Friday will be the first to come into the country in 19 months.

No tourist visas have been issued since March 2020 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government shut the country's borders to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. In the past few months though, some visas for diplomats and foreign business officials have been reinstated.

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© Provided by The Times of India . NEW DELHI: India will begin issuing tourist visas to foreigners coming here on chartered flights starting October 15, the Union home ministry announced on Thursday. Additionally, foreigner tourists will be allowed to come in on non-charters — meaning flights under bubble arrangements flights from November 15 unless scheduled restrictions on scheduled flights is substantially lifted. As of now, scheduled international flights are suspended till the end of this month .

A formal announcement allowing foreign tourists to visit India may come within the next 10 days, an official from the Home Ministry said. The decision is being taken in view of the declining number of COVID- 19 cases in the country. On September 19 , 30,773 new cases were reported while active India 's COVID- 19 vaccination coverage has also crossed 80 crore as on September 17. The free visa to the tourists will be issued till March 31, 2022 or the issuance of five lakh visa, whichever is earlier. The total financial implication for this would be ₹100 crore. The free visa move is expected to incentivise

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The decision to allow foreign tourists, announced earlier this month, comes at a time when India's daily Covid cases have been falling.

The country has been recording about 20,000 daily positive infections - down from a peak of 400,000 daily cases during a devastating second wave that swept India in April and May. More than 70% of the population has received one dose of the vaccine.

However, experts and government officials continue to warn against complacency, saying that popular tourist destinations could act as Covid "super spreaders" of a third wave of infection which, they say, is inevitable.

The easing of restrictions on foreign travel also coincides with the onset of India's peak travel season, sparking hopes of revival of the beleaguered tourism industry.

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“ After considering various inputs, the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has decided to begin granting of fresh tourist visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021,” the MHA said in a statement. “All due protocols and norms relating to Covid- 19 , as notified by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare from time to time, shall be adhered to by the foreign tourists , carriers bringing them into India and all other stakeholders at landing stations,” the ministry stated. “The Covid pressure has eased up considerably, so the government has decided to open up the economy

© Yaruqhullah Khan Tourism industry welcomes move by government to allow foreign tourists , but concerns about Covid- 19 third wave still loom. Strict restrictions on incoming travellers in an effort to control the spread of the Covid- 19 pandemic badly hit India ’s tourism industry for nearly 18 months . But the government’s latest decision to grant visas on arrival to foreign tourists arriving by chartered flights from October 15 and those flying in by regular commercial flights from November 15 has restored hope in the struggling sector.

With its rich geography and history, India offers a large number of tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal monument, temples and forts, the snowy mountain peaks of the Himalayas and the white sandy beaches in the west and south.

The Taj Mahal is one of the leading tourist attractions of India and is visited by thousands of people every day © Getty Images The Taj Mahal is one of the leading tourist attractions of India and is visited by thousands of people every day

According to government data, India attracted just 2.74 million foreign tourists last year - down from 10.93 million in 2019 - as the pandemic upended lives and businesses.

Tourism contributes almost 7% to India's GDP and is also responsible for millions of jobs in the hospitality sector. With the economy struggling like never before, India cannot afford to lose out on the precious foreign exchange that tourism brings.

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Under the new guidelines, all tourist visas issued before 15 October will be invalid. This means that travellers coming to India will have to get fresh visas.

"All due protocols and norms relating to Covid-19 as notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time, shall be adhered to by the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and all other stakeholders at landing stations," the government said in an official release.

However, the authorities are yet to spell out the testing, vaccination, and quarantine rules for travellers.

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