Govt announcement on international tourism likely in 10 days: Officials

  • PM Modi too had spoken of the free-visa scheme on Saturday, saying that the central government was taking steps to “welcome foreign tourists back”.
Visas for foreign tourists have not been issued for the last one-and-a-half years, since the first outbreak of the infectious disease in the country.(Unsplash)
Visas for foreign tourists have not been issued for the last one-and-a-half years, since the first outbreak of the infectious disease in the country.(Unsplash)
Updated on Sep 20, 2021 01:14 AM IST
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PTI | ByHT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Government officials are considering whether India can reopen its doors to international tourists as countrywide cases of Covid-19 have largely remained stable over the last few weeks, according to people aware of the matter, who said the announcement may be made within the next 10 days.

Visas for foreign tourists have not been issued for the last one-and-a-half years, since the first outbreak of the infectious disease in the country.

The move to reopen is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on Saturday that the government is planning to allow foreign tourists into 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 during an interaction with Goa health care workers.

Senior officials of the Union home ministry are in discussions with stakeholders on the expected date to reopen the Indian economy for tourism, among other factors.

Discussions are also on to waive off visa costs for the first 500,000 foreign tourists who apply. The free visa scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022, or before if the 500,000-mark is crossed first. The total financial implication for this would be 100 crore, one of the ministry officials said.

PM Modi too had spoken of the free-visa scheme on Saturday, saying that the central government was taking steps to “welcome foreign tourists back”.

This will help revive the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors that have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020, when the first nationwide lockdown was announced, the official said.

The cost for a month-long e-tourist visa is country-specific, but ranges around $25 ( 1,842). A year-long multiple entry tourist visa charge costs around $40 (approximately 3,000).

Ministry officials also said they are considering the conditions for approval of foreign travel — for instance, whether visas should be allowed only for vaccinated travellers, and if tourists from countries battling Covid-19 outbreaks should be barred. All scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 2020 but special flights under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements -- through which carriers of two countries can operate flights -- are being run.

A second official aware of the matter hinted that the reopening of foreign tourism may be phased out.

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Monday, December 06, 2021