Withdrawal of COVID-19 testing for international travellers likely to boost foreign arrivals

Updated - July 20, 2023 10:34 pm IST

Published - July 20, 2023 10:33 pm IST - TIRUCHI

Foreign visitors at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, in Tiruchi.

Foreign visitors at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, in Tiruchi. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Central government’s decision to ease COVID-19 guidelines for international travellers is set to boost the arrival of foreign tourists in Tiruchi.

As per the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry, international travellers were subjected to RT-PCR testing on a random basis. Of the total number of arrival of inbound travellers on international flights, two per cent of them were subjected to COVID-19 testing. With the new guidelines that came into force on Thursday, no passenger will be tested for COVID-19.

Though the other general guidelines on precautionary measures are still on, the tourism sector welcomes the decision. Tour operators are of the view that it will ease the uncertainty of reaching their destination as per their plan if they tested positive for COVID-19. It will ultimately boost the inbound tourism to an extent.

“It is a step on the right direction. It may augur well to attract foreign travellers particularly from the European countries. However, it is too early to predict that it will revive the inbound tourism on a full scale,” says T. Jagadheeswari, Tourism Officer, Tiruchi.

Industrial leaders say that many more steps have to be taken to revive the full-fledged flow of international travellers to the pre-COVID-19 level. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tiruchi was attracting 20 lakh to 25 lakh domestic tourists and about 50,000 foreign tourists per month on average. The arrival of tourists, which was robust until February 2020, hit the bottom since the rapid spread of COVID-19 and subsequent lock downs.

Though domestic tourism has begun to flourish in recent months, the arrival of foreign tourists is yet to return to the pre-Covid levels. More than 75,000 foreign tourists arrived in Tiruchi in January 2020. In 2021, Tiruchi had just 6,267 foreign visitors. The arrivals in January 2022 were 1,524, showing a marginal increase over June. While the arrivals in July same year stood at 8,256, it was 8277 in August. During the current year, Tiruchi receives an average of 15,000 foreign travellers a month. Most of them were Non-Resident Indians, who went for employment in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and other middle east countries.

“By taking into account of regular flight services from Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai we cannot say that foreign arrival has been revived. Not many from Germany, Norway, Italy, England and other European countries have visited our region,” says Ms. Jagadheeswari,

She added that the Europeans, who were severely hit by COVID-19 and subsequent recession and inflation, had been still focusing on tiding over the crisis.

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