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The Andaman & Nicobar Islands, with its pristine clear waters and sandy beaches, make an ideal destination for national and international yachts. However, COVID-19 halted yacht visits to the islands, ensuring suffering to a great extent over the past 18 months.
Now the situation is changing and, with the situation slowly coming under control, considerable efforts are being made by the A&N Administration towards kick-starting yacht tourists.
Reporting from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Mr R Rathnam, based in Port Blair and heading up Asia Pacific Superyachts Andaman Islands and India, shares the following announcements for foreign travellers from the government.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will begin granting fresh tourist visas to foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15th October.
Foreign tourists travelling to India by flights other than chartered aircraft would be able to do so effective from 15th November.
All COVID-19 protocols and norms notified by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are to be adhered to by foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and other stakeholders at landing stations.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all visas granted to foreigners were suspended last year with various other restrictions also imposed on international travel by the central government to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. After considering the evolving COVID-19 situation, foreigners were later allowed to avail any kind of Indian visa other than tourist visa for entry and stay in India.
However, the MHA had been receiving representations from several state governments as well as various stakeholders in the tourism sector to start tourist visas also, to allow foreign tourists to come to India. Therefore, the MHA consulted all major stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and various state governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive.
After considering various inputs, the MHA decided to begin granting fresh tourist visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15th October 2021.
Foreign tourists entering India by flights other than chartered aircraft would be able to do so only with effect from 15th November 2021 on fresh tourist visas.
Rathnam noted the government summarised the news. “With this, the restrictions placed on visa and international travel stand further eased given the present overall COVID-19 situation.”
“We look forward to welcoming back international vessels to the Andaman Islands, home to some of the best islands and beaches in the world, comprised of some 572 islands out of which only 36 are inhabited. An incredible journey awaits those wanting to experience a different world,” added Rathnam.
Steeped in the amalgamation of culture and flavours of India, the islands offer a luxurious and exotic destination. Those cruising the clear waters of the Andaman Seas will find enchanting islands with miles of seclusion, drift diving over coral gardens, soft sandy beaches with pure blue waters and a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, and cool nights with good sailing winds.
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