The national Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) has written to civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri suggesting ways to ease travel restrictions for inbound international passengers as a way to save the tourism industry.
In its letter sent on Tuesday, the federation, which represents 10 travel, tourism and hospitality organisations, stated that international passengers should undergo Covid-19 test 15 days prior to their departure date. It also suggested that passengers with no symptoms be allowed to continue their journey while those found with symptoms during screening by airport authorities be sent to 14-day quarantine.
The letter was also sent to Union health and home ministries. Currently, all international passengers have to mandatorily undergo institutional quarantine for seven days and home quarantine in the following week.
The government on Thursday decided to extend the suspension on the scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India up to 11.59pm on August 31. However, the restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The letter read,
“All passengers arriving in India do not want to be quarantined. You can make it mandatory that they take a Covid test in their respective countries 15 days before their departure to India and that they show the report while boarding and landing. On arrival, we should test every passenger and only those who are found positive should be quarantined and rest of the passengers should be allowed to go to their respective hotels or homes. All airports in India should follow the same procedure for both domestic and international passengers.”
The federation also suggested that the cost of Covid-19 test on arrival should be included in the air tickets.
Subhash Goyal, secretary of FAITH, said,
“Travel industry will never be able to recover until the current mandatory quarantine rules are worked upon.”
The federation’s suggestion assumes importance in light of the findings of a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines since 1945, conducted in mid-March and early June. The study revealed that as many as 83% of the 4,700 respondents from 11 countries, including India and the US, said they wouldn’t travel by air if it involves a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
A former DGCA official said, “Decisions on mandatory quarantine period is decided by the health ministry which is being followed by the all other relevant ministries. Hence, aviation ministry has no role in deciding quarantine period.”