India may soon reopen its doors to foreign travellers from nations where the coronavirus situation is in check, albeit the tourists follow the necessary health protocols.
The inter-ministerial talks are on in this regard for a "calibrated resumption of tourist visas on a country-specific basis," according to government officials.
"The Union home, external affairs, health, aviation and tourism ministries are having discussions to finalise the proposed calibrated reopening for tourist visa holders. While tourists only from certain countries are likely to be allowed initially, the protocol for those coming here is being worked out in terms of quarantine and other health requirements." an official told the Times of India.
"We are mulling issues like whether those coming with a negative report (as per requirement) and proof of having received the required number of COVID vaccine jabs need to be quarantined; if yes, for how long; or not. Several such things are being discussed," the official added.
In the wake of the rising coronavirus cases, India had in March 2020, suspended most visas issued to foreigners.
However, it later permitted some of them with certain visa types, except tourists, to travel to the country.
"It is crucial to reopen India to international tourists. We are doing below-average-rate business. Hotels in leisure destinations (like Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala) has 65% to 70% occupancy because of strong revenge travel by domestic travellers. City hotels have 30%-35% occupancy and overall occupancy is about 50%," said Nakul Anand, ITC executive director and chairman of the Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), at an event of the tourism body on Thursday.
A joint report by the tourism ministry and FAITH states that tourism activity is likely to return to pre-COVID levels in two-three years.
"In 2020, international tourism activity worldwide declined by over 70% reaching levels prevalent 30 years ago. Although countries have begun to partially lift travel restrictions, international travel demand is forecast to remain subdued... Domestic tourism will be the driver of travel and tourism in the interim," the report stated.