- India introduced a strict lockdown and halted visas for foreigners due to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
- Reopening comes as India seeks to rebound its economy after a severe wave of COVID-19 earlier in 2021.
- Indian officials seek to bolster the economy by helping to re-establish tourism, which is a crucial sector for the country’s economy.
In March of 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi enacted a harsh lockdown and axed all entry visas for foreigner visitors due to the severe threat presented by the coronavirus pandemic, effectively shutting the country’s borders to the international tourists.
Today, Indian government officials announced that the government will reopen the borders to foreign tourists starting from October 15, finally ending the restrictions that have lasted for over a year.
India‘s Home Ministry released a statement on Thursday, announcing that government officials have “decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021.”
The border reopening comes as India seeks to recover its economy after a severe wave of COVID-19 earlier in 2021 that resulted in around 400,000 infection cases and 4,000 deaths per day, overwhelming hospitals and forcing strict measures to be taken in an attempt to bring the spread of the virus under control.
With more than 250 million Indians now double-jabbed and cases having fallen to around 20,000 per day, officials have sought to bolster the economy by helping to re-establish tourism, which is a crucial sector for India’s economy.
The impact of the restrictions has significantly crippled India‘s travel industry, resulting in fewer than 3 million visitors in 2020, which is a 75% decrease from the previous year, according to government statistics.
However, despite encouraging tourists’ return to India, the country’s government was crystal clear that all visitors will be expected to follow stringent COVID-19 safety protocols during their visit. It’s not yet clear though what specific requirements the visitors will be expected to meet before traveling to the country.