India opened today for foreign tourists from countries with which it has reciprocal arrangements, after 20 months of being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Travel agents, however, said demand is very limited due to expensive tickets and restrictions that still apply to travelers from Britain, China and other countries.
The country, famous for its Taj Mahal, its desert palaces and tiger sanctuaries, barred all foreign tourists from entering in March 2020 when the pandemic was raging.
But after a catastrophic rise in cases earlier in the year, their numbers plummeted and the government, under pressure from an industry that is a major pillar of the economy, announced a easing last month.
From October 15, tourist visas are issued for fully vaccinated foreigners from countries with reciprocal arrangements, which go to India by chartered flights.
Today this measure has been extended to include other flights.
Visitors from approved countries will be able to obtain an online tourist visa and will need to monitor their health for 14 days after arrival.
But those from Britain, the EU, China, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere are subject to additional measures, including diagnostic tests upon arrival.
Also the first 500,000 visas were free.
Rajiv Mehra, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, said arrivals were expected to reach only around 5% of pre-epidemic levels in the coming months.
Goa, a popular tourist destination in southern India, will receive its first charter flight from Britain on December 13, the Times of India reported in late October.
Source From: Capital