Travel Trade Journal
Resumption of international visa services comes as a big relief to the tourism industry
In what came as the most awaited news in the tourism industry, the Central Government has considered resuming issuing of tourist visas in a bid to boost the economy as daily COVID-19 cases in the country have come down. The move was well-received by the tourism stakeholders.
As the vaccination rate goes up and the number of COVID cases continues to decline steadily, India is finally decided to allow foreign tourists to travel to the country since COVID struck last year. As per a recent official announcement which came following a high-level meeting by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), India will issue fresh tourist visas, from November 15 to foreign nationals. From October 15, tourist visas will be granted to those traveling on chartered flights to India.
According to a government statement in June this year, free visas will be issued to the first five lakh foreign tourists or till March 31, 2022, whichever is earlier, with a total finance implication of `100 crore.
This should act as a jumpstart, especially at the beginning of the peak tourist season of November and December.
However, to get to this point, almost all travel trade associations regularly engaged with all the stakeholders at the government and tourism ministry and constantly emphasised reopening the borders for international tourists to begin issuing e-tourist visas once the situation came under control and vaccinations picked up. Even the MHA agreed and stated that they 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.
Meanwhile, care has to be taken by tourism stakeholders that 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 and carriers bringing them into India, including all other stakeholders at landing stations.
So, with the restrictions earlier placed on visas and international travel eased, many tourism association leaders and stakeholders believe that the positive decision to restore tourist visas is expected to revive the tourism sector. Let’s read what some of them had to say on this development: