Government to start issuing tourist visa to foreigners travelling to India from October 15, Travel News, ET TravelWorld

Government to start issuing tourist visa to foreigners travelling to India from October 15In a major decision to boost inbound tourism to India, the Indian government has taken a decision on issuing tourist visa to foreign travellers as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will start issuing tourists visa from October 15. Those travelling through chartered flights will be allowed to enter India from October 15 while other travellers coming via regular flights will be granted entry from November 15.

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.

The absence of modalities and SOP for issuing 5 lakh free visas for foreign travellers is having a negative impact on the revival of inbound tourism.

With this move, the restrictions placed on visa and international travel stand further eased given the present overall Covid-19 situation. All visas granted to foreigners were suspended last year. Various other restrictions were also imposed on international travel by the Central Government to arrest the spread of the pandemic. After considering the evolving Covid-19 situation, foreigners were later on allowed to avail any kind of Indian visa other than tourist visa for entry and stay in India.

In a statement, the government said, “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.Therefore, the MHA 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.”

Travel trade expressed joy over government’s move and hoped the move will help revive inbound tourism in the country. Rajiv Mehra, President Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), thanked the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Tourism Minister for considering its request in resuming tourist visa. ” This is a very encouraging decision for the country’s tourism industry and we hope the inbound tourism would start to some extent and will give sigh of relief to the tourism industry stakeholders,” he said.

An incoming foreign tourist might have to show their vaccination certificate or undergo a quarantine period or face rejection, which will depend on how they treat Indian tourists visiting their country. Hence, the officials concerned will have to scrutinise each application based on the latest rules.

Mehra further made an appeal to the Government to resume international flight operation and said all airlines should be allowed to start operating their flights as per bilateral agreement that was in place before March 2020 so that foreign tourists who want to visit our country can book their tickets.

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