Right now, the world’s bucket-list travel destinations fall into two camps. Some are reopening their borders to at least some international travellers, such as Bali, Iceland and Vietnam. Others, including the US and Australia, have hinted that travel may resume soon, but concrete dates remain elusive. And then there’s India.
Travel to, from and within India has been suspended since the pandemic began, when the country implemented a strict lockdown. Now things are starting to open up again.
The Indian government has announced that it is finally starting to reissue tourist visas, meaning that trip of a lifetime might be possible again. Here’s what you need to know.
Can I travel to India?
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has confirmed that visitors can arrive by chartered flight from October 15, with commercial flights restarting on November 15.
Around 26 percent of India’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated, while nearly 70 percent have received at least a single dose.
It’s not yet clear what quarantine arrangements will be in place for travellers arriving in the country, but masks must still be worn on public transport. Currently, government rules state that all international arrivals will face a 14-day quarantine on arrival – but that’s likely to change once tourism restarts.
That said, each of the country’s 28 states is allowed to set different rules for international arrivals, so restrictions may vary depending which airport you fly into. See here for a state-by-state breakdown.
You’ll also have to check that flights are running from your country, as some operators are yet to resume full service. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has strict guidelines on who can book a flight.
Reciprocal rules have been introduced in the UK, too. Indian citizens arriving in the country no longer have to isolate or take a Covid test, as long as they have received both doses of an approved jab.
Can I travel domestically within India?
Short answer: yes! Indian domestic flights were allowed to resume from May 25, and passenger numbers have been growing steadily since.
Some states are actively trying to incentivise travellers, in order to reboot their tourist economies. For instance, the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is handing out vouchers that are valid for hotel and home-stay accommodation.
At the moment though, other states (such as Delhi and Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai) are requiring domestic travellers to quarantine for seven or even 14 days after arrival. See here for a state-by-state breakdown.
That’s no reason not to keep planning that trip of a lifetime, of course. Check out our essential travel guide to the best of India, and start creating that itinerary.