Life & Leisure

India’s fledgling tourism sector sees hope as international flights resume

New Delhi, Mar 27 (EFE).- As India resumed commercial international commercial flights on Sunday after two years of Covid-linked restrictions, the country’s struggling tourism sector has welcomed the step.

“It is a very good sign that the international flights are starting now,” the president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, Rajiv Mehra, told EFE.

The Indian government had banned the entry of international passenger flights in the country on Mar. 23, 2020, a day before announcing a complete lockdown of the country to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, although it began operating some flights under billateral bubble arrangements from July that year.

The limited air travel opportunities and allowing the entry of foeign tourists from Nov. 15, 2021, has slightly eased the situation for the tourist sector, hit hard by the restrictions.

However, the lack of flights and the uncertainty triggered by the three waves of coronavirus in the country have led to a surge in ticket prices.

“The fares are (still) very high,” Mehra said, adding that it would take a few months for the number of international flights to reach the pre-pandemic lebels.

The ticket prices could also be affected by the rising oil prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The number of tourist arrivals could also take time to reach the numbers registered before 2020, as Mehra highlighted that people prefer to plan their India visit much in advance, ruling out a major surge during the Easter holidays,

Until February, India had been classifying the countries with which it had bubble arrengements as per their risk assessment, with different restrictions in place. However, these preventive measures were updated in February, with the requirement of mandatory quarantine being withdrawn,

The travelers are still required to be fully vaccinated and carry a negative RT-PCR test report from within 72 hours of boarding the flights, according to the rules published by the health ministry in February.

After a surge in infetions triggered by the Omicron variant, which resulted in over 300,000 cases in January, India on Sunday registered just 1,421 fresh cases, while over 1.83 billion doses of anti-Covid vaccines have been administered to the population. EFE


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