India mulls reopening doors to foreign tourists as Covid-19 situation eases
With the Covid-19 situation easing in India, the government is mulling reopening the country for foreign tourists over a year after the doors were shut in March 2020.
Officials said the plan is to issue visas free of cost to the first five lakh foreign tourists in a bid to help in the revival of the tourism sector, which was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The financial implication for the scheme would be around Rs 100 crore.
The Ministry of Home Ministry is discussing the issues with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism, tour operators and other stakeholders.
Officials expect that the government would make the announcement in the next 10 days.
As per the plan, free visas to the tourists will be issued till March 31, 2022 or till the issuance of five lakh visas, whichever is earlier. The government expects that this move will incentivise short-term tourists.
The cost for a month-long e-tourist visa in India is country-specific but is around $25. Year-long multiple entry e-tourists visa charge is around $40.
The government suspended the e-tourist visa scheme in March 2020 as the country went into a lockdown.
The decision will be announced after the government decides on the criteria of foreign tourists who would be allowed entry. Deliberations are on conditions like limiting it to only vaccinated travellers for now and having a negative list of countries where Covid-19 cases remain a concern.
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