You may be able to make that winter visit to the Taj Mahal this year after all. India, once an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, is once again ready to begin welcoming foreign tourists.
This week, the government of India announced plans to reopen visa applications, which have been suspended for 18 months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Foreign visitors arriving on chartered flights to India can begin arriving on Oct. 15 and passengers traveling on commercial airlines will be allowed entry after Nov. 15.
Travelers will be required to adhere to all local COVID-19 prevention protocols, according to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
India has been slowly reopening visa processing for business, diplomatic, and student travel in recent months as COVID cases and deaths have been on the decline across the country. Those numbers have been declining since summer as vaccinations have been increasing.
India has administered more than 900 million vaccine doses and nearly 700 million have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest available data from the World Health Organization.
India has reported nearly 34,000,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 450,000 deaths related to COVID-19, according to the WHO.
India has already reopened visa applications for business, diplomatic, and student travelers, CNN reported. Leisure travelers must obtain a tourist visa for travel to India.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control currently assigns a moderate Level 2 risk rating for travel to India. It recommends only vaccinated travelers make the journey to India and continues to recommend unvaccinated U.S. travelers refrain from leisure travel.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from India. Starting October 11, travelers from India will no longer have to self-isolate or take a COVID test upon arrival in the U.K., the BBC reports. About 26% of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, it said.