India to allow tourists for first time in 18 months

India is to begin granting tourist visas for foreign visitors after an 18-month pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country's government announced, CNN reports.

Tourists arriving by chartered flight will be able to do so from October 15, according to a press release from India's Ministry of Home Affairs. Other arrivals would be permitted from November 15, it said.

The move follows a tentative reopening in recent months to travelers on business, diplomat, or student visas.

"All due protocols and norms relating to Covid-19 as notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time shall be adhered to by the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and all other stakeholders at landing stations," CNN cited the release as saying.

India welcomed 10.6 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, the year before the pandemic, according to official figures. In 2018, foreign exchange earnings from tourism amounted to $28.6 billion.

Earlier this year, India was the global center of the Covid-19 pandemic with thousands of deaths daily during the April-May peak, with many blamed on the Delta variant that was first identified here.

To date, the country has had 449,856 Covid deaths and 33,894,312 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. So far, 18.63% of the population has been fully vaccinated.


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