INDIA. New Delhi: COVID-19 had been very harsh on foreign tourists coming to India. Even the domestic tourism sector was hit badly. Various restrictions were imposed on international travel by the Indian Government to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all visas granted to foreigners were suspended last year. After considering the evolving COVID-19 situation, foreigners were later on allowed to avail business/medical and other kinds of an Indian visa, but Tourist Visa for entry and stay in India was not opened.
With the aggressive vaccination strategy, India is now a step closer to reopening the country to tourism. It is also important as an early resumption of tourism is very important for the recovery and growth of this sector. Several State Governments as well as various stakeholders in the tourism sector approached the Ministry of Human Affairs to start Tourist Visas to allow foreign tourists to come to India. The ministry consulted all major stakeholders like the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism, and various State Governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive.
After considering various inputs, the MHA has decided to begin granting of fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15 October 2021. Foreign tourists entering into India by flights other than chartered aircraft would be able to do so only with effect from 15 November 2021 on fresh Tourist Visas.
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. With this, the restrictions placed on visa and international travel stand further eased given the present overall COVID-19 situation.
It should also be noted here that India has already announced that once Visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh Tourists Visas will be issued free of charge.