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COVID-19: 19 months after restriction, India reopens for foreign tourists

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COVID-19: 19 months after restriction, India reopens for foreign tourists

India reopened to overseas travelers on Friday, nineteen months after the country closed its doors to foreign tourists following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Federal Home Office, tourist visas would initially only be issued to people traveling to India on chartered flights.

This would be extended from November 15 to people on other flights as well.

Protocols and standards for foreign tourists would be notified by the health ministry, the government said.

Meanwhile, local media reported that tourists must be fully immunized and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight to be allowed entry.

India’s peak tourist season is during the winter months and the easing of restrictions is seen as an effort to boost the sector which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Less than three million foreign tourists visited India in 2020, a drop of around 75% from the previous year.

New Delhi plans to issue 500,000 free visas to boost tourism, which should encourage short-term tourists to visit India.

India is just behind the United States in terms of the number of coronavirus cases, with more than 34 million cases while 451,814 people have died.

After a virulent second wave of COVID-19 between April and June that saw a peak of 400,000 daily cases, India has recorded fewer than 20,000 daily cases in recent days.

Health officials have advised caution, however, saying the festival season from October to November could see a new spike in cases.

dpa / NAN

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