India is back in business

KUALA LUMPUR 16 November 2021: India celebrated reopening its doors to fully vaccinated foreigners worldwide starting 15 November without any quarantine requirement.

Travellers to India only need to undergo a pre-arrival test for Covid-19 at their home country within 72 hours of their flight to India.

Travellers from designated low-risk countries will be allowed to leave their destination airport on the condition they self-monitor their health for 14 days and follow strict standard operating protocols.

The Indian government is offering free tourist visas for the first 500,000 foreign visitors to the country to help revive the tourism sector, a Bernama report stated based on information provided during an India Tourism promotion held in Kuala Lumpur at the weekend organised by the Malaysian Indian Tour and Travel Association (MITTA) and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

According to the Bernama report, the IVS Global India Visa Centre in Kuala Lumpur had already reopened visa services during the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, the governments of Malaysia and India are holding discussions to create an “air travel bubble once an agreement is reached on designating aircraft and the booking capacity allowed per flight.

Malaysian has successfully vaccinated 95% of its adult population to date and is moving towards a total reopening date for international tourism on 1 January 2022.

Before Covid-19 days forced a lockdown across Asia, India supplied 700,000 visitors to Malaysia, making it one of the 10 inbound tourism markets for Malaysia and in the top five spend bracket.

India started to reopen to tourists in mid-October, first allowing foreigners to arrive in the country on charter flights. Now the rule will apply to international commercial flights from foreign countries starting this week.

After halting tourist visas in March last year, India is now allowing quarantine-free entry to fully inoculated travellers from 99 reciprocating countries.

Many Indians have already been flocking to domestic tourist hot spots in recent weeks, such as the western coastal state of Goa and the mountainous north, as a deadly second Covid wave faded out after triggering peak infection rates of more than 400,000 cases a day in early May.

Families also gathered together this month to celebrate Diwali, the country’s largest festival, with new cases staying well below 15,000 a day.

India’s immunisation campaign has also gathered pace, with more than a billion vaccine doses administered, and antibody surveys suggest that most Indians have already been exposed to Covid-19.

(SOURCE: Bernama, Bloomberg and travel associations)