With Covid-19 vaccines gradually being shipped across the world and lockdown regulations slowly easing, it is a good time now to plan that much-needed vacation abroad. Since the government has established “air bubbles” with several countries in recent months, Indian passport holders can visit over a dozen foreign destinations to beat the pandemic blues.
So, where can you go and how do you get there? To mitigate the quarantine requirements and testing rules at different locations, India began opening up “travel corridors” with countries. Several of these — including the Maldives, UAE, Bahrain and Nigeria — are now inviting visitors for non-essential travel.
But in most of these countries, tourists are being tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and are directed to quarantine for extended periods before venturing out to take in the sights and sounds of the different exotic locales.
Here are some of the countries Indian passport-holders can now visit during the pandemic
Maldives reopened for tourists on July 15 after a four-month shutdown due to the pandemic. After India established an “air bubble” with the country in August, Indian travellers have already begun to flock to the island nation — known for its white sand beaches and luxurious resorts.
While quarantine and testing upon arrival is not required, all tourists will have to have a confirmed booking in a tourist establishment registered with the Ministry of Tourism. They will also have to provide a negative PCR test for Covid-19 conducted 96 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure.
Qatar began lifting Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and reopening its borders for foreign travellers as early as in August. But if you are planning a trip to the middle eastern nation, be prepared for a Covid-19 test on arrival and a compulsory quarantine period.
Tourists will have to sign a formal pledge, promising that they will quarantine at their hotel for a week at their own expense. Once they isolate for seven days, they will be tested again and their quarantine period will end if the results come back negative. But if a traveller tests positive, they will be transferred to a government facility for isolation.
Hotels in the country are even offering quarantine packages for travellers.
In an effort to promote tourism, Oman has announced that it will exempt citizens of 103 countries, including India, from needing an entry visa to stay in the country for up to ten days.
But tourists arriving in the country will have to provide the details of their stay — including their hotel details and return ticket. They will also have to give proof of health insurance in order to obtain an entry visa for the Sultanate of Oman.
Thailand, which is otherwise one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, is reeling under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With the holiday season inching closer, the country is now trying to undo some of the damage done over the past one year.
Thailand has opened its borders for tourists from around the world, but with some strict measures in place. Tourists will have to provide a negative PCR test result taken 72 hours before arrival, followed by another Covid-19 test upon landing. Visitors will still be required to undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.
The country is inviting travellers to apply for a Special Tourist Visa, which will allow them to stay in the country for upto 90 days.
Dubai began welcoming tourists and visitors back into the country on July 7, 2020. All passengers arriving in Dubai will have to take a PCR test up to four days prior to their date of travel. Indian tourists will also have to take another test upon arrival.
Children below the age of 12 and passengers with moderate or severe disability are exempt from the test.
In November, South Africa relaxed its travel restrictions for Indian tourists after closing its borders in March. Indian passport holders will have to present a negative Covid certificate, taken not more than 72 hours before they arrived in the country. If a traveller is unable to furnish a negative test result, they will have to self isolate at their own expense soon after landing.
Travellers visiting the country will only be able to book tickets to airports in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. To obtain a visa, Indians will have to submit their passports, complete visa application, bank statement, proof of their hotel booking, daily itinerary and air tickets. They will also have to provide a cover letter with the duration and details of their trip.
If you are planning a safari at Kenya’s renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve or simply looking forward to a leisurely break lying on the white sands of Mombasa beach, look no further. Under India’s current agreement with Kenya, any Indian national with a valid visa from Kenya can visit the country.
Travellers will require a negative PCR based Covid-19 test carried out up to 96 hours before travel. To help public health authorities carry out contact tracing if the need arises, a tourist will be required to provide his or her details in a health self-declaration form. But Indians will not have to self isolate upon arrival, according to the Kenyan Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works.
Indian tourists can now partake in the rich heritage of Nigeria, thanks to the “air bubble” arrangement in place between the two countries. But before arriving in the country, travellers are required to have tested negative for Covid-19 at least 120 hours before departure.
All passengers are required to register on Nigeria’s international travel portal online, where they will have to provide a detailed health declaration and upload a copy of their negative Covid test result. They will also have to make a payment for a second Covid test, which will be conducted once they arrive in the country.
Once they arrive in Nigeria, passengers will have to undergo a mandatory 7-day self-isolation period, during which time they will have to avoid contact with friends, family and colleagues.