Gulf travel plans of NRIs go awry

Travel plans of hundreds of non-resident Indians (NRIs) have gone awry with several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries imposing stringent restrictions on air passengers in the wake of the raging COVID-19 threat worldwide.

Those who have booked tickets for the summer vacation have postponed their travel plans even as many airline companies are facilitating rebooking for new dates even up to May 31.

So far the UAE, Bahrain and Oman have not imposed travel ban on Indians or foreign nationals who have visited India. But the restrictions have been put in place for entry ban for nationals of China, Iran and Italy and those who have visited these countries in the 14 days prior to travel to Oman.

“The ban on other GCC countries has forced many to take an exit route through the UAE or Bahrain for renewal of visas in April,” a software engineer P. Ashraf said.

There are others such as Rekha, an India-born U.K. citizen, who reached Kerala via Abu Dhabi last week for offering Pongala at the Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday despite the COVID-19 fears. She will be returning on Friday.

Entry to Qatar has been temporarily suspended for all those travelling from many countries including India.

Only passengers with onward connections through Hamad International Airport will be allowed for travel.

Preventive measure

This decision, authorities said, comes as a preventive measure due to the spread of the disease globally. It affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors, the Qatar Airways said.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia has suspended the tourism visa from India and also entry to the country for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s mosque temporarily. Thus, travel agencies are either deferring or cancelling the travel to the cities of Mecca and Medina.

Likewise, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Kuwait, has issued a circular following the decision issued by the health authorities in that country that all incoming flights to and from Kuwait International Airport have been temporarily suspended for many countries including India for a week.

At the same time, India has issued a circular that all foreign and Indian nationals entering the country from any port are required to furnish a self-declaration form including personal particulars and travel history to health officials and immigration officials at all ports.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:43:37 PM |

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