India has announced that it will resume granting tourist visas for foreign nationals after a 19-month pause.
The announcement also suggested that regular commercial airlinks could resume for tourists as soon as next month, with non-Indian nationals being granted visas to arrive by air from 15 November.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said that passengers travelling on chartered flights would be eligible for tourist visas from Friday.
"After considering various inputs, the MHA has decided to begin granting of fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15 October, 2021"
Prior to the Covid 19 shutdown India was one of the largest air travel hubs in the world.
In 2019 the country welcomed 10.6 million tourists. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism amounted to $41 billion, the year before.
With huge domestic and international air infrastructure, the seven airlines based out of India have been hard hit by the travel downturn.
On Friday the bankrupt national airline Air India was bought by Tata Sons, along with a portion of its $11.75 billion debt.
Tata's chairman Ratan Tata tweeted a cautiously optimistic message following the bid, saying: "While admittedly it will take considerable effort to rebuild Air India, it will hopefully provide a very strong market opportunity to the Tata Group's presence in the aviation industry."
The country has recorded a staggering 33.9 million cases of Covid 19, including a spike in early May which was driven by the Delta variant of Covid 19.
In spite of the move to reopen the borders, under 19 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. India's Ministry of Home Affairs was not concerned saying that restrictions on international travel would be "further eased given the present overall COVID-19 situation."
There was no mention of vaccine requirements for visitors at this stage.
MFAT's safe travel advice remains "that all New Zealanders do not travel overseas at this time due to the outbreak of COVID-19, associated health risks and widespread travel restrictions."
India has not yet retracted its quarantine requirements for visitors, with most arrivals requiring to spend 7 days paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by 7 days isolation at home with self-monitoring.