On 15th November 2021, India opened its borders to fully vaccinated foreign tourists entering the country on commercial flights for almost two years. According to the reports by the Health Ministry, tourists entering the country should be fully vaccinated, test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight and will follow all Covid-19 protocols. This is the first time that India has allowed foreign tourists on commercial flights to enter the country since March 2020, when it imposed one of the sturdiest lockdowns in the world to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Although fully vaccinated, tourists on chartered flights have been allowed to enter the country starting last month this year.
Travelers from all the countries that have mutual agreements with India on the recognition of vaccination certificates, including the United States, United Kingdom and multiple European nations, can leave the airport without undergoing a Covid-19 test. However, they need to monitor their health for 14 days after their arrival. To encourage people to visit India, the government has planned to issue 500,000 free visas through next March. This attempt by the government comes concerning boosting the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been badly affected by the pandemic.
Anil Kalsi, the joint secretary of the Travel Agent Federation of India, has stated that “The limited international flights have reduced capacity and led to manifold increase in fares. For example, the Delhi-Dubai economy return is currently quite double the pre-pandemic level of under Rs 20,000. Spot fares on this route are upwards of Rs 45,000 while booking can bring the level down to Rs 35-40,000. The government should consider resumption of scheduled international flights with countries where Covid is much in control and which mutually accept our vaccines and certification.”
According to official data, fewer than three million foreign tourists visited India in 2020, which had dropped to more than 75 per cent as compared with 2019. Easing on the restrictions; the country is all ready to welcome people from across the world. Previously, restrictions on most categories of foreign visas, like diplomats and businesspeople, had been gradually lifted, but the tourists have remained barred even as most economic activities resumed in the country.