As the COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on international travel, airlines and tourism industries suffered massive losses. Even as international flights, albeit a few, have started operations, the tourism sector is still facing the brunt of the pandemic. As India has already started its vaccination drive, a sense of normalcy is taking over fear and panic that we all saw few months ago. As per new report, the tourism sector is likely to be given a new lease of life.
While there is no official update on the restoration of tourist visas for foreigners, reports suggest the aviation secretary is in serious discussion with home and health department regarding tourist movement in the country.
SOP for international tourists
Earlier last month, travel industry urged the government to announce dates for restoration of tourist visas. The move would give a much-needed boost to the industry and encourage travellers to plan their trips accordingly. The Indian Association of Tour Operators also urged the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs for normalisation of international flights or prepare a road map with some tentative dates.
"To save the tourism jobs and the industry, it is imperative that the plan for inbound tourism should start as early as possible for which the Ministry of Tourism and the stakeholders should start international marketing," Pronab Sarkar, President, IATO, was quoted as saying.
Shortly after, the government said that it was working on a plan to start inbound travel for international travellers in close coordination with industry stakeholders. The government was also preparing a set of guidelines for the restoration of tourist visas in view of COVID-19, a source familiar with the plans revealed.
Various things like identifying a recognised tour operator, arranging a fixed itinerary, vaccination certificate or COVID negative report among others have been proposed. More details on the restoration of tourist visas will likely follow soon after the deliberations are complete.