india opening borders to tourism

India’s COVID-19 devastation may affect other countries reopening plans

India is open to visitors from 27 territories through travel bubble agreements but general tourism remains closed. Incoming travelers need to submit a self-declaration and upload a negative COVID-19 test result no older than 72 hours at the moment of boarding.

The government is officially working on a calibrated resumption of tourist visas on a country-specific basis” aiming to reopen the country for tourism as soon as possible.

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May 5 – India’s COVID-19 devastation may affect other countries reopening plans

COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc in the second-most populous country in the world. With 400,000 new infections and more than 4,000 deaths per day, the country’s health system has already collapsed. 

Top scientific advisers to the Indian government have said that given that Covid-19 is a global issue, the consequences will be devastating if the international community does help India to control the pandemic ASAP. 

The new variant B.1.617, first discovered in India, is suspected to be more infectious and possibly able to resist the immunity provided by the current vaccines against COVID-19. 
India as the major provider of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide threatens the vaccine supply in multiple countries as well as the reopening plans, according to experts.

April 19 – Multiple countries have expressed concerns about the new “Indian” coronavirus variant.

Health officials from India and the U.K, are closely monitoring and investigating if the new B.1.617 variant a.k.a “the Indian variant” that has already infected around a hundred people in India, the U.K. and Scotland, and some more in  Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.S., has the potential to evade the efficacy of the vaccines. 

This so-called “double-mutation variant” could be behind the latest deadlier COVID-19 wave of infections the country has experienced since the pandemic began.

In case this new variant is in fact fueling the pandemic in the U.K., as some epidemiologists have suggested, it could have a negative impact nor only on India’s health system but also on the country’s reopening plan and its travel bubbles.

April 4

Back in January, the Indian government announced an ambitious program to get 30 million health, sanitation, police and other front-line essential workers vaccinated over the first phase of the vaccination rollout. 3 months later, it has not happened. 

As of today, the country has been able to fully vaccine 9.3 million citizens out of 1.366 billion people. Once the government is done with the first phase, everyone over 50 years old with underlying health conditions will be eligible for a vaccine. The country aims to vaccine 300 million people “in the next few months.” 


March 20 – New restrictions

As of today, all arrivals in the country need to present a negative COVID-19 test result obtained from a sample taken within the 72 hours prior to departure.

A sharp increase in cases has prompted several states to impose or tighten curfews and other restrictions.

February 24

The Indian government has been officially holding inter-ministerial meetings to create a strategy that allows them to reopen the country for tourism to countries where the COVID-19 situation is under control, according to local media.

Additionally, effective on February 17, India opened a new air travel bubble with Russia.  Commercial airlines of both these countries are allowed to restart flights to and from them. 

Vaccination rollout

As of February 24, India has vaccinated 0,86 doses per 100 people.

Vaccination rollout in India

Who is allowed entry to India?

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

  • Indian citizens (also Bhutan and Nepal citizens)
  • Foreign health care professionals
  • Business travelers
  • Medical tourists
  • Visa holders, except for tourist visa holders.

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 May 5, travelers visiting from the following 27 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. Russia
  20. Rwanda
  21. Seychelles
  22. Tanzania
  23. Ukraine
  24. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  25. United Kingdom (UK)
  26. United States of America (USA)
  27. Uzbekistan


How the Coronavirus has affected India?

As of May 5, India has reported 21,070,852 positive COVID cases and 230,151 deaths caused by the virus. India remains the world’s second worst-hit country, after the United States.

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 due to economic concerns.

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 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.

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.

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 situation in India is at warning level 4. This means, travelers should not visit the country at the moment. (Source:

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 visitors will find 32 UNESCO World Heritage sites which make 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, there are 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.

Travelers will 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.

There is also 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.

Indian people are considered to be among the most gracious in Asia. Everywhere tourists go, they are greeted with smiles.