In a move aimed at boosting the economy through tourism, the government has decided to lift the Covid barrier for international travelers by resuming the grant of tourist visas. The Ministry of Affairs will start granting fresh tourist visas to foreigners coming to India from November 15. For those coming on chartered flights, visas would be granted starting October 15.
The move comes a year and a half after grant of tourist visas was suspended in the wake of Covid pandemic. The ministry said in a statement that the decision was taken following consultations with stakeholders like the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and state governments.
“MHA had been receiving representations from several State Governments as well as various stakeholders in the tourism sector to start Tourist Visas also, to allow foreign tourists to come to India. After deliberations we have decided to ease travel restrictions,” a senior Home Ministry official said. The official said states have been asked to follow Covid protocols laid down by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the tourists, the carriers bringing them into the country and other stakeholders must also stick to the guidelines.
Grant of all visas to foreigners had been suspended in the wake of the pandemic last year. After considering the evolving situation, the government had allowed foreigners to avail any kind of visa other than tourist visa for entry and stay in India. India has said the country’s Covid-19 graph was plateauing even though about 20,000 fresh cases were being reported every day. It said the challenge of Covid-19 was not over yet and warned people not to let their guard down during the festive season