After closing to the world for over 18 months, the Indian government has begun preparations to reopen the border for international tourism in the coming weeks.
The news comes as cases continue to fall as the vaccination rates rise nationwide. The pandemic has hit the nation’s tourism economy hard, and the border reopening will be an attempt to revive the aviation, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
According to reports, top union home ministry officials are deliberating with all stakeholders on the expected date of when the country reopens to foreign tourists. The government expects to make an official announcement in the next 10 days on the date of reopening and the restrictions upon entry.
The government is proposing a free visa to tourists until March 31st, 2022. Officials stated that they expect the free-visa move to encourage short-term visitors to enter India in the next 6 months.
The government has suspended the normal E-Visa since March 2020 after India went into a nationwide lockdown due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The Possible Entry Restrictions
Although there’s no official confirmation on the entry requirements, the Home Ministry has declared that they are debating whether to exclude unvaccinated travelers from entering India and having a negative list of countries where COVID-19 cases remain very high.
Furthermore, the officials said the reopening will be a phased reopening, and not a complete reopening at first. There was no mention of whether India may impose a short quarantine on arrival when the country reopens.
When India sets out its complete guidelines, we will be the first to let you know in the coming days.
The COVID-19 Situation in India
After a bad outbreak of the Delta variant — an outbreak that caught the world’s attention — India has started to see COVID-19 cases drop. The current 7-day case average is 30,177 cases nationwide. However, the 7-day case average was almost touching 400,000 new cases per day in May 2021.
India has currently fully vaccinated 14.5 percent of its population, which is almost 200 million people. The nation has administered a total of 796 million vaccination doses. India has also given 42.9 percent of its population the first vaccination.
After massive pressure on India’s healthcare service during May and June, the pressure is lifting and life is slowly getting back to some type of normality.
Although large parts of Europe, South and Central America, and North America have reopened for travel, the vast majority of Asia remains shut. That said, we’re starting to witness plans to reopen all across Asia as vaccination rates rise and countries prepare to live alongside COVID-19.
Thailand is pushing to fully reopen to international visitors in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases begin to drop after a large outbreak in recent months.
Thailand started the Phuket sandbox scheme in July, but travel remains largely challenging and restricted despite the partial reopening to vaccinated visitors.
Vietnam also announced its plan to reopen its popular island destination of Phu Quoc to fully vaccinated visitors next month.
Furthermore, Indonesia declared its desire to reopen the country next month to fully vaccinated visitors. The government has closed Bali since March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even Cambodia has started to plan its reopening to international visitors.
However, much of Asia is still way behind Europe in regards to vaccinations, and very few Asian nations have properly reopened for travel.
Only Asian nations such as the U.A.E have begun allowing fully vaccinated tourists into the country for non-essential travel.
Slowly but surely, we’re starting to see Asia plan its reopening and this nightmare beginning to subside.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com