Multiple countries stopped travel from India or imposed expensive quarantines amid the country’s harsh second Covid wave in April. Now as India’s Covid-19 numbers decline, homebound Indians suffering from cabin fever are dreaming of travel again and eyeing their passports. But where can they go?
Domestic travel has largely opened up with a few restrictions, and evidence of the pent-up desire to travel was evident in traffic jams leading up to India’s popular hill stations. But international travel is a complicated web of travel restrictions, visa requirements, and, often, expensive quarantine rules.
“We are seeing a slight increase in international travel search queries for July and August as travellers are optimistic they would be able to fly post the end of the international travel ban on India,” Manan Bajoria, AVP of growth and marketing at travel website ixigo, told Quartz India. “With Covid cases in the country seeing a downward trend and countries like Dubai easing travel restrictions, we expect interest in international travel to gradually pick up in the coming months.”
Many travel destinations long popular with Indians have begun welcoming arrivals since the number of Covid-19 cases in India has gone down. While Indians vaccinated with Covishield or Covaxin are not completely exempt from quarantine-free travel, some countries have made exceptions for travellers. Sixteen EU countries including Germany and France, for instance, will allow Indian travellers to enter if they are fully vaccinated with Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This blanket clearance, however, does not exist for the UK. So while India has moved from the “red” list to the
, even fully vaccinated travellers will need to quarantine at the place of their stay for 10 days. This is because though the UK recognises the AstraZeneca vaccine, it has
Dubai’s Emirates airlines, for example, is set to resume flights from June 23, but it will only allow Indian travelers with residency visas and only those who are fully vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines (in India’s case, only those vaccinated with Sputnik V or Covishield). Even Thailand, which is going to experiment with a “Phuket Sandbox” of quarantine-free stays for vaccinated tourists from July 1, has not opened this provision up for Indians yet.
The only exception is a tiny handful of nations across the world which are allowing Indian travellers, provided they come with a negative RT-PCR test and quarantine for the requisite period of time. Some of these destinations may themselves be nearly impossible to navigate, given that not all the countries have direct flights from India, and others may not allow even transiting international passengers from the country.
This list is not exhaustive.
The island country of Mauritius could join this list. Starting July 15, it will allow travellers to fly to the country for a quarantine-cation. If they test negative for Covid-19 after 14 days, tourists will be free to roam the country. But whether this will apply to India remains to be seen.