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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

‘Customized VISA’ To Be Rolled Out In India

Depending on how they treat Indian tourists visiting their country, incoming foreign tourists might need to show a vaccination certificate or undergo a quarantine period. As a result, the officials involved must scrutinize each application based on the latest rules.

With India’s border set to open to international tourists, the government has decided to treat the applicants on a reciprocal basis under new visa rules. Visa facilitation will depend on the applicant’s home country’s policy toward Indian tourists.

A senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed that a meeting was held last week to resolve all the issues emerging from such a situation. The meeting was attended by representatives of all concerned agencies and was presided over by the Union Home Secretary. The meeting decided to provide reciprocal treatment to Indian tourists. Many countries have opened their borders to tourists from foreign countries, however, they have imposed several restrictions on Indian travellers. The official said that the matter has been raised with diplomats of concerned countries to get issues resolved,” the official said.

Therefore, an incoming foreign tourist might have to present their vaccination certificate or undergo quarantine or face rejection depending on how they treat Indian tourists visiting their country. As a result, the officials will have to examine each application using the latest rule instead of the one that was in place 18 months ago when the tourist visas were first withdrawn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Separately, the MHA has also discussed the framework with the tour operators association, the tourism ministry, the aviation ministry, and other stakeholders. The final decision will be made at the next Cabinet meeting, which will be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary next week. During the meeting, developments during this period or ongoing diplomatic negotiations may be discussed.

A move to boost tourism, the government announced free visas for the first five lakh foreign tourists who hit Indian shores before March 31, 2022. Kenya, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Mauritius, Egypt, Russia, Iceland, UK, Uzbekistan, Italy and other countries have opened their borders to Indian tourists with conditions such as a quarantine period, full vaccinations, and compulsory RT-PCR reports on arrival.

Around 7-8 lakh tourists visited India every month before tourist visas were suspended.

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