Smoothen domestic, int’l travel

TAAI has appealed to MoCA and the MOT to set up protocols right away and issue certificates for vaccinated travellers – both domestic and inbound – in order to ensure that inter-state and cross-border travel is smooth when the time comes.

Hazel Jain

A stitch in time can save nine. And keeping in tune with this age-old proverb is the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) that recently urged the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) to pay attention to an issue that might flare up later. Sharing this information in an exclusive interview is Jay Bhatia, Vice President, TAAI, who says, “We have written to MoCA and MOT about urgently setting up protocols for travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and issuing certificates to them.”

This move, he says, will eliminate the need for travellers to get their RT-PCR tests done and quarantine themselves every time they have to fly or cross international or domestic borders. “The first thing everyone – whether it is the hotel, the airline or the state bodies – asks travellers to do is get these tests, which is greatly hampering tourism. So there has to be some kind of mechanism that is proof of vaccination and which can be easily verified that the holder of the certificate is vaccinated,” he says. TAAI has a meeting with Rupinder Brar, ADG, MOT, this month on the matter.

Bhatia however points to another problem that can crop up. “International travellers have already started showing interest to visit India. Certain countries have already set up some sort of protocols for their citizens who are vaccinated. But these Apps are in their local languages which cannot be verified in India. That is why we need to set some sort of precedence and have a universal certification for our inbound travellers so they don’t have to undergo the process of testing and quarantine,” he underlines. What TAAI has also proposed is the need to have a mandate on health and travel insurance for all travellers coming into India. “We need to figure whether we allow them to take insurance in India through travel agents and tour operators making their arrangements or let them use their country’s travel insurance policies. While we still have some time before the tourist movement can start in full swing, we should have these policies and norms in place,” Bhatia asserts.

 

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