India to open doors to foreign tourists soon, says officialtext_fields
India may soon open to foreign tourists for the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic one and a half years ago, officials have informed. In an attempt to revive the tourism, hospitality and aviation sector, the first five lakh tourists shall be issued visas free of cost. The free visas will be issued will March 31, 2022, or until the issuance of five lakh visas, whichever is earlier. The three sectors have been badly affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March 2020.
An official from the Home Ministry informed that a formal announcement on allowing foreign tourists may come within the upcoming ten days, considering the declining number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
With 30,773 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday, India currently has 3.32 lakh active cases.
The free visa move, expected to cost around Rs 100 crores, incentivise short-term tourists. While a country-specific month-long e-tourist visa is around USD 21, a year-long multiple entry e-tourist visa costs around USD 40. The e-tourist visa has been suspended since March 2020.
However, Home Ministry officials are still deliberating on the conditions for allowing the entry of foreign tourists. Conditions like limiting it to vaccinated travellers alone or having a negative list of countries where COVID-19 cases remain a concern is being considered.
The opening up would also be phase-wise to see the response and implications, another official said.