Travelers at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. India plans to raise 6 trillion rupees ($81 billion) by leasing out state-owned infrastructure assets over the next four years to fund new capital expenditure without pressuring government finances. The proposal involves handing assets including roads, railways, airports, sports stadiums, power transmission lines and gas pipelines to private operators. Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
New Delhi CNN  — 

India is to begin granting tourist visas for foreign visitors after an 18-month pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s government announced Thursday.

Tourists arriving by chartered flight will be able to do so from October 15, according to a press release from India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. Other arrivals would be permitted from November 15, it said.

The move follows a tentative reopening in recent months to travelers on business, diplomat or student visas.

“All due protocols and norms relating to Covid-19 as notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time, shall be adhered to by the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and all other stakeholders at landing stations,” read the release.

India welcomed 10.6 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, the year before the pandemic, according to official figures. In 2018, foreign exchange earnings from tourism amounted to $28.6 billion.

Earlier this year, India was the global center of the Covid-19 pandemic with thousands of deaths daily during the April-May peak, with many blamed on the Delta variant that was first identified here.

To date the country has had 449,856 Covid deaths and 33,894,312 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. So far, 18.63% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has a “level 2: moderate risk” advisory for US citizens considering travel to India. It says travelers should be fully vaccinated before visiting. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel.

Top image credit: T. Nayaran/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Barry Neild contributed to this story.