India reopens to foreigners on tourist visa from today, only chartered flights allowed for now
Foreign tourists intending to visit India on chartered flights can finally do so from Friday, while those travelling on regular planes will have to wait for one more month. According to the notifications issued by the Union home ministry last week, India will start granting tourist visas to foreigners travelling on chartered flights from October 15 and those by regular planes from November 15. The latest orders are a sign that the country is gradually relaxing its coronavirus disease (Covid-19) restrictions and reopening its frontiers, albeit with sufficient and necessary precautions, in view of the easing overall pandemic situation.
India suspended all visas granted to foreign travellers last year in view of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country and by extension, the rest of the world. Not just that, the country also imposed several other restrictions on international travel, including limiting the number of flights and constituting special ‘air bubble’ arrangements with countries with favourable situations for travel. However, with the gradual easing of the pandemic situation, foreign travellers were later allowed to avail of any other kind of Indian visa, except a tourist visa, to facilitate for themselves entry and stay in India.
However, according to the PTI news agency, the Union home ministry had been receiving representations from “several state governments as well as various stakeholders in the tourism sector” to restart the tourist visas and allow foreign tourists to travel to India. Finally, the ministry announced last Thursday that the restrictions placed on tourist visas and international travel since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic stand further eased.
According to an official statement, the decision was taken “after considering various inputs” which suggested that fresh tourist visas be granted to foreigners coming to India. For this, the ministry consulted various other government departments – including the ministry of health and family welfare, the ministry of external affairs, the ministry of civil aviation, the ministry of tourism, as well as several state governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive.