For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of India’s borders, fully-vaccinated international tourists can now enter the country. By Naina Atri
With vaccination rates steadily rising and global travel gradually picking up its pace, India has decided to welcome back foreign travellers. For over a year, a series of lockdowns and waves of rising infection rates had forced the country to clamp down on mass foreign tourism. However, for the first time since March 2020, fully-vaccinated travellers from 99 countries can now enter, reports Bloomberg. Incoming passengers will also have to be negative 72 hours before they fly in. Regular flights resumed from November 15, while entry via chartered flights was granted permission in October.
What you should keep in mind before travelling to India:
Indiatourism Delhi accorded warm welcome to international tourists landed at T3 New Delhi on early hours – Monday (November 15) by handing over over rose buds. pic.twitter.com/9LyTmMYcCU
— Ministry of Tourism (@tourismgoi) November 15, 2021
The decision has been made after a careful study of infection and vaccination rates. Al Jazeera reports that daily rates have fallen from 4,00,000 to below 20,000, while vaccination programs continue on their upward trajectory. The country’s testing capacities have also increased. The opening up of the borders coincide with the festival season. Tourism contributes almost 7% to India’s GDP, reports the BBC, which makes the dip in foreign tourism great devastation to the industry. Under the new guidelines, all tourist visas issued before 15 October will be invalid, which means that travellers coming to India will have to get fresh visas. It also hasn’t been announced what the exact protocol will be regarding testing and quarantine.
Domestic travel has already regained its strength as tourist spots have put mechanisms in place to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. However, worries about another wave have not completely died down. Al Jazeera reports that there are also concerns about the impact of ‘revenge tourism’ – foreign tourists are said to be super-spreaders – which means the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations will have to be closely monitored. Travel, under these circumstances, will have to be all the more innovative to battle potential consequences.