Travel agents' body TAAI on Saturday urged the government to come out with guidelines for travellers, both domestic and international, who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and asked to do away with quarantine requirement for such travellers. Many countries have started the process of vaccination and travellers who have already been vaccinated are desirous of travel to India, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) said in a release.
However, currently, there is no clarity in terms of how their entry into India shall be permitted, it added. Stating that a central-government mandated "uniform policy" is needed for this purpose, TAAI urged Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel "to set up urgent protocols for travellers who are getting vaccinated against COVID-19".
"We have urged the Central government through the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Tourism to set guidelines for vaccinated travellers, issue verifiable certificates and set Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) for the same. This will enable vaccinated travellers to resume their activities to pre-COVID times and live towards a better future," TAAI President Jyoti Mayal said. Every person vaccinated in India must be granted a certificate, she said, adding that the government should also tie-up with other countries to verify and accept their COVID-19 vaccine certificates.
TAAI said RT-PCR/quarantine norms should be done away with for in-bound vaccinated travellers, while health/travel insurance should be made mandatory for them prior to their entry in the country. Besides, proof of vaccination and the date of COVID-19 vaccination should be sought.
For Indians travelling within the country and abroad, TAAI said the proof and date of COVID-19 vaccination can either be linked with Aadhar card or physical verifiable certificates can be issued to such citizens with a pan-India applicability. It asked for waiving RT-PCR and quarantine norms for such travellers also.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India's COVID-19 vaccination drive, the world's largest inoculation exercise against the novel coronavirus. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to start administering its citizens with a COVID-19 vaccine which had completed all trials in December last year. It was followed by other nations.
The pandemic has impacted the aviation industry globally amid visa and travel restrictions by various countries to contain the spread of the virus. India has not yet restored scheduled international operations which it had suspended in late March, days before the announcement of a complete lockdown from March 25 last year.
India continues to operate overseas services under 'Vande Bharat Mission' and bilateral air bubble pacts with select countries in a restricted manner. Domestic air travel though is gradually recovering since the resumption of services on May 25 last year.
However, the domestic passenger volume slipped to a seven-year low of 63 million in 2020 as compared to 144.1 million passengers carried by all domestic carriers together in 2019. TAAI Vice President Jay Bhatia said, "We are proud that our government has rolled Made-in-India vaccines. To make travel and tourism as free and comfortable as possible, TAAI shall be working closely with the government on formulating and setting standards which shall be acceptable and verifiable globally." "We have proposed immediate action so that vaccinated travellers desirous of travelling domestic, international and even for inbound to India shall be free from hassles," Bhatia added.