New Delhi: Amid a decline in Covid-19 cases in the country, India may reopen its doors for foreign tourists from early October for the first time in one and a half years, officials said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that his government has decided to give visas to five lakh tourists free of cost.
“We hope that there will be tourist activities as before and tourists from all over the country and the world would come and enjoy here in next tourism season," PM Modi said.
He said the infection has subsided but still “we do not have to take this virus lightly.” “More tourists will visit India if we maintain the hygiene and ensure their safety,” he said.
Sources in the government said Indian airlines will soon resume operations on a limited scale.
Top Union Home Ministry officials are deliberating with all stakeholders on the expected date and modalities for opening up of the country for foreign tourists.
A formal announcement allowing foreign tourists to visit India may come within the next 10 days, an official from the Home Ministry said. The decision is being taken in view of the declining number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The free visa move is expected to incentivize short-term tourists visiting India, the official said.