India to allow foreign tourists travelling by chartered flights from October 15, rest from November 15 – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India will begin issuing tourist visas to foreigners coming here on chartered flights starting October 15, the Union home ministry announced on Thursday.
Additionally, foreigner tourists will be allowed to come in on non-charters — meaning flights under bubble arrangements flights from November 15 unless scheduled restrictions on scheduled flights is substantially lifted.
As of now, scheduled international flights are suspended till the end of this month.
India had suspended foreign tourist visas last March along with suspending scheduled domestic and international flights. Schedule domestic flights were resumed in a gradual manner since last May. Air bubbles have so far been formed with about 30 countries for air connectivity and certain categories of foreigners — except those on tourist visas — were increasingly allowed to come to India on them.
The government’s move to resume tourist visas will come a big boost to for all stakeholders of the struggling travel industry — airlines, hotels, tour operators and those linked directly and indirectly with it.
In June, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the first 5 lakh tourist visas issued once India allows entry to this category of visitors will be issued free of charge. Pre-Covid 2019 saw almost 1.1 crore foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) who collectively spent $30 billion on leisure and business.
“The average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days and their average daily spending per tourist is about $34 (Rs 2,400). Once (tourism) visa issuance resumes, the first 5 lakh tourists visas will be issued free of charge,” Sitharaman had said on June 28, 2021.
Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FAITH) chairman Nakul Anand said, “We look forward to a healthy start to inbound tourism and given no third wave hope all countries encourage visitation.”
Indian Association of Tour Operators president Rajiv Mehra said: “We welcome the announcement and extend our heartfelt thanks to the government. However, along with the e-visas we would want government to fully operationalise the international flights as was the case prior to March 2020 as presently the international airfares are too high which will be a big impediment towards normalisation of tourism flow. We appeal to the Government to resume international flight operations and all airlines should be allowed to start operating their flights as per the bilateral agreement that was in place before March 2020 so that foreign tourists who want to visit our country can book their tickets at competitive rates.”
This benefit will be available only once per tourist. The scheme, which forgoes Rs 100 crore revenue from this head, will be applicable till March 31, 2022 or till the first 5 lakh visas are issued.
Travel has been among the worst victims of the pandemic. The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), an apex body of Indian tourism industry, had this March — just before the second wave — warned that almost 70% of the country’s estimated workforce of 5.5 crores (direct and indirect jobs) of the sector could get unemployed — about 3.8 crore people — as an impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
It had said Indian tourism industry is staring at bankruptcies, closure of businesses and mass unemployment. Over Rs 5 lakh crores of direct tourism industry and almost double that of total economic activity is at risk it had said.
Tourism is almost entirely dependent on domestic travellers, which has seen a significant rebound since the waning of the deadly second wave.

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India to allow foreign tourists travelling by chartered flights from October 15, rest from November 15 – Times of India

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