India may start issuing tourist visas only to vaccinated travellers after 1.5 years of suspension

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In October 2020, the Home Office authorized all OCI and PIO cardholders to travel to India for any purpose except on a tourist visa.

With the daily cases of Covid nose-dive and the acceleration of vaccination, the Center plans to resume issuing tourist visas soon, but only to those vaccinated, the ANI news agency reported. The Center stopped issuing tourist visas in March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown was announced. As the situation improved, the government relaxed visa rules, but never resumed issuing tourist visas. Now the proposal is under consideration as it will also pave a way to stimulate the economy.

A senior MHA official confirmed to ANI that things have been formalized and that a meeting has been called at the Home Office which will be chaired by the Home Secretary on Thursday to discuss visa resumption plans tourism.

In October 2020, the Home Office authorized all OCI and PIO cardholders to travel to India for any purpose except on a tourist visa.

The official said this will be done in a phased manner and that, depending on the feasibility, it will be open to anyone who is vaccinated. With this, the Center could come up with a list of international vaccines that will be approved in India.

Before the suspension of tourist visas, around 7-8 lakh tourists came to India every month. Several countries have resumed issuing tourist visas, although negative RT-PCR tests remain the criteria for international travel as the proposal for a vaccination passport has not received unanimous support from the countries.

The issue of vaccine restrictions stipulated by some countries in the European Union has posed a challenge to Indian travelers, which was raised by the highest level of the Foreign Ministry and India raised the issue through diplomatic channels, making it clear that if countries do not recognize vaccines given in India, India will also impose similar restrictions on people coming from other countries.

(With contributions from the agency)

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