After five months of waiting, the UAE has reopened for tourism for vaccinated travelers from India. Passengers can apply for a tourist visa with effect from today and receive quick approval. The new rule applies to all those fully vaccinated with the Covishield/AstraZeneca vaccine.
After banning all travel from India in late April, the UAE has been steadily taking steps to resume travel in the last few weeks. After allowing transit flights and residents to return, the UAE is now once again issuing tourist visas to Indians and allowing for nonessential travel to the country.
Entry conditions from India remain largely the same as those for residents. Tourists will need to prove that they are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine to receive a visa and enter. That means only passengers that have taken Covishield/Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are eligible for travel. Those taking COVAXIN or Sputnik V remain barred.
However, conditions are not as simple as being vaccinated, with strict testing rules too. Passengers must take an RT-PCR 48 hours before the flight, followed by a rapid PCR at the airport up to six hours before the flight. Once both these tests are negative, passengers can fly to the UAE, where they will take another PCR test upon arrival.
If there is any doubt about demand, ticket prices have risen over 25% in less than 24 hours since the announcement. Airlines will likely respond with more capacity, but the UAE is officially back on the map for Indian passengers.
Relief for airlines
The biggest winners of the easing will be the airlines and stranded passengers. The UAE is the most popular tourist destination from India and home to millions of workers and their families. With tourist visas back on the table, passengers will be flocking to the country to meet friends and family or vacation.
In turn, Etihad and Emirates will receive access to their single largest market. While traffic will still be lower due to few connecting flights, point-to-point traffic remains strong too. Indian airlines will be rejoicing too, now having access to one more major foreign destination open to Indians.
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The UAE was one of the first countries to almost fully reopen to travel after the pandemic hit last year. Fast forward one year, and the country is once again undertaking an ambitious reopening, allowing passengers from around the globe to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with a World Health Organization-approved vaccine.
This lifting of travel restrictions does come with risks of a surge in infections. However, the UAE boasts one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with 75% of the population fully vaccinated and 86.6% having taken one dose as of today.
The UAE’s decision to reopen comes one month shy of the EXPO 2020’s opening (many might be familiar with Emirates’ A380 EXPO liveries too). The world exhibition has been a multi-billion project that hopes to attract millions to the UAE from 1st October to 31st March 2022. With visitors crucial to the strategy, the UAE is hoping to control cases and reopen safely.
What do you think about the UAE’s decision to lift the travel ban on India and all other countries? Let us know in the comments!