19 months after the Indian government entered the country to control the spread of the epidemic, India reopened its borders on Friday for foreign tourists arriving on charter flights, which is now at an all-time low in the Asian country.
In addition, visitors traveling in “air bubbles” will be able to do so from November 15. It is the nostalgia of a tourism sector that has been severely affected by the strict control measures taken by the Indian government, however, could not avoid more than 400,000 cases daily, an increase in epidemics such as last May.
“India’s tourism sector has been completely shut down for the last 20 months due to incoming (air) traffic, no work. Nothing is allowed and most of us have survived due to some domestic reservations.” Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Tour Operators Association (IATO), recognized Efe.
Faced with this situation, the head of the IATO welcomes the government’s move, but notes that many more points need to be taken into account if the country is to promote foreign tourism.
Mehra, who runs a travel agency, criticized the issuance of tourist visas for 30 days and single entry, which prevents him from coming to neighboring Nepal or Sri Lanka; Also, since they are aircraft that are part of the “air bubbles”, the charges are very high.
“Once regular flights start, fares will go down (…) and tourism will start. (Second) This 30-day visa should be extended to 60 days. Third, visas previously issued in India are valid again,” he said.
Spanish Iron Calvo, along with his partner Olga Hardicola, founded IN2LIGHT, a consistent and responsible tourism consultant in India, which has not received tourists since March 2020, but Efe acknowledges that the Indian government’s announcement will not rush them. Thanks to their consulting businesses in other fields, they can wait a while before returning to this place.
“We will start research to get information from ex-passengers or those staying at the door, we will see how the spirits are, but we do not plan to start working until 2022.”
“Now is the time for backpackers, for the tourism we promote, I am afraid we will have to wait,” he said.
When everything stops
India suspended all commercial passenger flights at the end of last March by announcing a total lockout in the country to curb the spread of the corona virus.
The country then deregulates, allowing domestic air traffic first, and then opening up “air bubbles” with various countries.
Foreigners with business or work visas can still travel to India, but the authorities have banned tourists for fear of infection.
After passing a deadly second wave between last April and May, images of hospitals from the brink of collapse and saturated crematoriums reached more than 400,000 cases a day, infections are now in a clear decline and about 16,000 a day.
In addition, India has so far provided 971 million anticoagulant vaccines, although only 279 million people have received a double dose, so a complete vaccine for its adult-producing 950 million is still a long way off.