The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has requested the government to modify the travel rules and requirements mandatory for travellers visiting India. The association has sought the withdrawal of a mandatory exercise, which according to them is causing a ‘hindrance’ to the revival of inbound tourism and discouraging foreign tourists from visiting the country.
Raising its concerns, the apex-inbound travel agent association has written to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, seeking removal of the submission of the self-declaration form on the online Air Suvida Portal for foreign nationals.
The existing travel rules set by the government for visitors entering India require all international arriving passengers to mandatorily fill the Air Suvidha Self Declaration Form digitally before boarding their flights. Such applications are being accepted on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The travellers are required to upload a vaccination certificate, passport copy, and RT-PCR test report apart from mentioning flight details on the portal.
“Presently all foreign tourists who intend to visit our country need to submit a self-declaration form and attach documents which foreign tourists especially the elder person find very difficult. Due to this reason, many foreign tourists are reported to have been offloaded which is giving negative publicity and now many tourists are skipping travel to India. On one hand, we are looking to bring more foreign tourists to India and on the other hand, we are making it difficult for tourists to consider India as a destination by creating hindrances,” said Rajeev Mehra, President, IATO making the request.
The association has requested the Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy to impress upon the central government about the challenges faced by inbound tourists and act on them at the earliest.
“Now under the present situation, many countries have abolished all hurdles to attract more tourists. This is high time that when the situation is much better now, we should consider removing such hurdles for foreigners. IATO has, therefore, requested the removal of the Air Suvidha Self Declaration Form requirement to encourage foreign travellers to visit our country and revive inbound tourism to India,” Mehra further added.In another communication, IATO has requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India to remove the compulsory web check-in requirement mandated by all domestic airlines. Mehra said that foreign travellers are facing a lot of inconveniences while travelling in India due to this requirement.
IATO said that the basic purpose of web check-in is to avoid the rush at the baggage counters but the very purpose of the same is defeated as all travellers have to stand in queue for handing over the check-in baggage as there are no separate queues or counters for those who have already done the web check-in.
The association also brought to notice a practice where airlines are charging INR 200 from travellers for not doing the web check-in. IATO has requested that directives should be issued to all the domestic airlines, not to make it compulsory for the travellers to do web check-in and the facility of issuing boarding passes should be available from the airline check-in counters at the airport for those who have not done web check-in.
“It is the responsibility of the airline to issue a boarding pass and baggage tag to the air travellers, hence there should not be any additional charges of INR 200 for the boarding pass,” said Mehra.