(MENAFN– NewsIn.Asia) New Delhi, Oct 15 (LiveMint) – Starting from today, foreign tourists will be allowed to enter India, beginning with granting tourist visas to those travelling by chartered flights and those by regular planes from November 15.

The government had earlier suspended all international flights in March last year after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Union Home Ministry on 7 October announced that with this, the restrictions placed on visa and international travel since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic stand further eased given the present overall pandemic situation.

After considering various inputs, the ministry has decided to begin granting of fresh tourist visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021, a home ministry statement said.

Foreign tourists entering into India by flights other than chartered aircraft would be able to do so only with effect from November 15, 2021 on fresh tourist visas.

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All due protocols and norms relating to COVID-19 as notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time shall be adhered to by the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them to India and all other stakeholders at landing stations, the statement said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all visas granted to foreigners were suspended last year.

Various other restrictions were also imposed on international travel by the central government to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After considering the evolving COVID-19 situation, foreigners were later on allowed to avail any kind of Indian visa other than tourist visa for entry and stay in India.

However, the Home Ministry 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 Home Ministry consulted all major stakeholders like the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and various state governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive and took the decision, the statement said. 

Meanwhile ,the Ministry of Finance has announced already to give free tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists who will be visiting India subsequent to the restoration of the tourist visa.

India is expecting slow arrival of tourists keeping in view post Covid scenario. According to an internal assessment done by the Ministry of Tourism it is likely that till March next year the country would be able to get 5 lakh tourists if all goes well.

To get the tourism industry back on track and fill coffers with foreign exchange, India is expected to offer gratis visas to major source markets first. India is also expecting stiff competition from neighbouring countries.

In order to utilise the optimum benefits of giving gratis tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists, it is expected India will keep the focus on major source markets of Europe, America, Australia and countries like Japan and Korea, which yield high returns in the form of foreign exchange earnings.

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