India to welcome back tourists after Covid-19 restrictions crippled the travel industry and saw number of visitors plunge by 75%

The Indian government announced on Thursday that officials will reopen the country to tourists from October 15, lifting restrictions that have lasted for more than a year.

Back in March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a strict lockdown and halted visas for foreigners due to the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, closing the borders to the majority of tourists.

Announcing the easing of rules, the  Home Ministry released a statement confirming officials have “decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from October 15, 2021.”

The move comes as India seeks to rebound its economy after a severe wave of Covid-19 earlier in 2021 resulted in around 400,000 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.

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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 the travel industry, resulting in fewer than 3 million visitors in 2020, which is a 75% decrease from the previous year, according to government statistics.

Despite encouraging tourists back to India, the government was clear that all visitors will be expected to follow stringent Covid-19 safety protocols during their visit. However, it’s not yet clear what specific requirements individuals will be expected to meet before traveling.

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