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India Reinstates the India e-Visa Except for Tourism

The Indian government was amongst the first ever to impose and implement a travel ban on account of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19 pandemic). The government of India acted almost instantly after hearing about the coronavirus outbreak outside China and quickly executed a general travel ban, including for visitors who had an Indian visa.

This policy resulted in a significantly low number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the beginning. However, at present, India is now experiencing an incredibly massive and threatening third wave. As of April 14, 2021, approximately 14,074,564 infectious cases and 173,123 confirmed and registered deaths have been reported.

Despite the escalating number of cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs has restored the India e-Visa facility for visitors from 156 countries who wish to travel to India for conferences, business, or medical purposes. This also includes medical attendants. However, the e-Visa for tourists still awaits its restoration.

India Restores Most of its Electronic Visas (e-Visa)

In India, an electronic visa (e-Visa) falls under 5 different categories: conference, business, tourist, medical attendant, and medical. According to the MHA, all the eVisa categorized under an e-medical visa, e-business visa, e-conference visa, and e-medical attendant visa have been restored under immediate effect.

While four out of five e-visas have been permitted, tourist e-visa is still not open. Even though this facility is offered to 171 countries across the globe, ever since the restrictions were announced and imposed in 2020, it was only restored for 156 countries. The following countries have been excluded from this list:

  • Malaysia
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • United Kingdom
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran
  • Indonesia
  • Canada

A few months earlier, on October 22, 2020, India relaxed its visa restrictions and permitted foreigners to travel to India for reasons of employment, business, medical, research, conferences, and education after individuals availed their regular visas from foreign embassies and missions.

The MHA suspended all international air travel back and forth for 107 immigration check posts on March 23, 2020. This was just one day before the initial phase of the countrywide lockdown for 21-days was announced in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visa limitations were gradually relaxed with time. Eventually, later onwards in 2020, the MHA permitted foreign nationals from France, Germany, UK, and the US to travel to India on medical, employment, and business grounds under an air bubble scheme.

When will India Reinstate the e-Visa for Tourism?

It remains incredibly crucial and risky to reopen India to foreign tourists. Some of the hotels across the more leisurely destinations of India like Kerala, Rajasthan, and Goa are occupied by 65-70%, mainly due to domestic travelers’ robust revenge travel.

According to a combined report by the Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) and tourism ministry, the tourism activity is most likely expected to return to its normal, pre-Covid levels in about 2-3 years.

The international tourism activity across the world has seen a downfall of over 70% in 2021, reaching an alarming level that was widespread 30 years ago.

Even though most countries have gradually started lifting travel restrictions, international travel demand is anticipated to be restrained. Meanwhile, domestic travel and tourism will continue to drive the tourism and travel industry in the short term.

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