NEW DELHI: Sudden opening of international borders with various countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Bhutan and Vietnam leads to a surge in tourist numbers and long queues at the immigration clearance at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
The tourism sector, especially in the Asia Pacific, remains one of the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The governments of the respective countries have taken measures to make economic and business easier.
Several countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan and the Middle East's United Arab Emirates, have opened their borders to tourists after a gap of almost two years.
"The passengers from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, especially tourists, are the most travelling at the moment. Many airline companies have announced their discounted airfares these days," an airport official told ANI.
The rush hour for international travellers witnessed huge crowds on Tuesday midnight with arriving passengers waiting in long queues to clear their immigration at the Delhi airport.
"There was a huge crowd at the Delhi airport on Monday night where people queued up for more than half an hour for immigration clearance," a UK passenger told ANI.
Recently, several airline companies have announced discounted airfares to attract tourists after a long gap of a year. In a recent announcement, Vietnamese-based airline VietJet inaugurated two new routes between Ahmedabad and Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City after easing Covid regulations and opening borders.
"VietJet is making it easier and affordable for Indians, and how travellers from Ahmedabad, to visit Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City, an economic icon. Prices starting from 23000 INR round trip," the airline company said in a statement.
A Delhi-based tour and travel companies are also selling their short-haul destinations instead of Europe and other western countries due to visa delays.
"For two years, people were not able to go out due to Covid, now the market is open, so visa is not available to go to Europe quickly, so people go to places like short-haul destinations... Vietnam, Malaysia, Bhutan, UAE and alike. At present, we have demand from short-haul countries only," Manoj Matta, head of oriental vacation, told ANI.
In March this year, India's the Ministry of Civil Aviation has resumed 100 per cent full service for international passengers flying. India's Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said, "All regular international flights will operate at 100 per cent capacity as the COVID situation in India has now improved."
Besides, this company got fed up with virtual meetings and hence had started venturing out for their off-sites, be it dealer-incentive tours or conferences or launch events, etc.
Another factor contributing to this is the students travelling abroad.
"Owing to visa issues, currently, we have demand for short-haul countries only," Manoj Matta, head of Oriental Vacations and Journeys, told ANI.
Passengers from India as well as foreigners filed complaints about immigration chaos and mismanagement strategies at the Delhi airport through social media.
Last year, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has taken cognizance of the mismanagement of the crowd at IGI, resulting in a chaotic situation. Jyotiraditya Scindia convened a high-level meeting with officials from IGI Airport (DIAL), Airports Authority of India, (AAI), Immigration and Covid-19 Testing Lab Company attending the meeting.