india opening borders to tourism

India open to 24 countries via travel bubbles, tourism remains banned

India is currently open to visitors from 24 territories through its travel bubble agreements. Incoming travelers need to submit a self-declaration and undergo health screenings and, possibly, quarantines on arrival. 

UK outbound flights are also allowed entry after a temporary ban that ended on January 8. Passengers on these flights need to provide two negative CPR tests, one before departure and another one after arrival and they have to quarantine for 14 days.

India Reopening Borders – Latest Updates

Update January 26

The temporary ban on UK visitors has been lifted but there are a few restrictions still in place. Visitors coming from the UK need to present negative COVID-19 test results before boarding and take a second test on arrival in India. They also need to quarantine for 7 days at an approved facility and then 7 days at home.

Restrictions for other visitors depend on the region they are visiting. Some destinations require quarantines and testing.

Update November

India has updated its air travel bubble with 22 countries. Find the details of each bubble here.

Update October

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, announced that the international flight services suspension that was supposed to end on October 31st might continue in place until March-April 2021. 

He also stated that the Indian government is considering 3 issues before resuming regular international flights; Domestic flight connectivity (already done), the epidemiology situation, and the international restrictions. 

Update July

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) said on July 28 that tourism won’t recover until a vaccine is found. (source)

Who is allowed entry to India?

As of today, only the following travelers are allowed entry to the country.

  • Indian citizens
  • Foreign health care professionals
  • Business travelers
  • Medical tourists

What are the entry requirements to be granted access to India?

  • All travelers must apply for a visa from the Indian Embassy beforehand.
  • In order to enter the country, they must fill out a self-declaration form 72 hours before departure and submit a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test upon arrival.
  • Submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 96 hours before arrival.
  • If they do not have negative test results, they will face 7 days of institutional quarantine followed by 7 days of at-home isolation.
  • Travelers will also be thermally screened at the airport upon arrival.
  • Any visitors showing symptoms will be isolated.

What countries can now travel to India?

As of January 25, travelers visiting from the following 24 countries may be allowed entry.

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Bahrain
  3. Bangladesh
  4. Bhutan
  5. Canada
  6. Ethiopia
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Iraq
  10. Japan
  11. Kenya
  12. Kuwait
  13. Maldives
  14. Nepal
  15. Netherlands
  16. Nigeria
  17. Oman
  18. Qatar
  19. Rwanda
  20. Tanzania
  21. Ukraine
  22. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  23. United Kingdom (UK)
  24. United States of America (USA)

Others may also be allowed in the future as the country gradually opens its borders.

Covid-19 situation in India
Source

How the Coronavirus has affected India?

As of January 26, India has 10,667,736 positive COVID cases and 153,470 deaths caused by the virus. India remains as the second most infected country, after the United States.

As the charts show, India has not contained the virus. In fact, according to the New York Times, India has the fastest-growing Covid-19 outbreak in the world.

While originally India mandated strict lockdowns on its population to help contain the spread of the disease, over time compliance became a problem as there are many day laborers in the country who have very little in savings. Many states, as well, decided to end the lockdowns early for economic reasons.

Indian people having food together

However, even when lockdowns were in effect, the lack of contact tracing and the extremely crowded conditions in the cities have made it hard to contain the spread of Covid-19.

One troubling piece of information is that tribal groups on the isolated Andaman and Nicobar Islands have come down with the virus. Since India tightly controls access to these areas, the fact that even they are getting sick means that the virus has spread everywhere in the country.

The economic effects of the lockdown, which was one of the world’s strictest when it was in effect, have been devastating to India.

How safe is it to travel to India?

Man from India wearing a facemask

While not all parts of India are dealing with a rise in cases, most of the major cities are.

While many hotels, restaurants, beaches, and other tourist sites have been opening up, they are doing so with limited seating capacity, thermal checks, and other restrictions.

While these types of controls help, it’s probably not a good idea to visit India at this time as a tourist.

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 situation in India is at warning level 4 and all types of traveling should be avoided. The risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 is very high. (Source: CDC.gov)

Why visit India?

India is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and it has an architecture that is rooted in this history.

Here you will find 32 UNESCO World Heritage sites which makes this a delight for those who love history or design.

One building that should be on everyone’s bucket list is the Taj Mahal, which is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a marble mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

In addition to this stunning structure, you’ll find many other architectural wonders in India. There are the ruins of ancient cities, forts dating from the British era, and more recent monuments from after India’s independence. The variety of temples, mosques, and churches speak of India’s religious diversity.

Here you’ll find Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Catholics, Jains, and Buddhists. Many tourists come to India to develop a deeper appreciation for their own spirituality, whether at a meditation or yoga retreat or simply through visiting the local holy sites.

You’ll also find a wide variety of foods, from moderately spicy northern curries to the burning hot flavors of the South. Some of the tastiest meals can be made up of Indian street food, sold by vendors who specialize in just a few dishes.

You’ll also find the people here to be among the most gracious. Everywhere you go, you will be greeted with smiles.

The pandemic has hit India particularly hard. Therefore, its probably not a good idea to plan a visit here at this time.

However, you should definitely visit this tantalizing subcontinental country when Covid-19 is no longer a factor.

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