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Vaccine tourism on the rise as wealthy international tourists eye an opportunity in the U.S.

Shortly before the Covid-19 vaccine made its debut last month in the United States, an Indian travel agency called Gem Tours & Travels announced it was registering customers for an exciting new package: a four-day trip from Mumbai to New York City with a coronavirus shot thrown in for about $2,000.

“Vaccine tourism,” Nimesh Shah, the company’s business development specialist, called it.

“We are only taking registrations of Indians with a valid 10-year U.S. visa,” Shah told ThePrint. “We are not taking any money but just collecting data for the moment. We are proud to have coined the term ‘vaccine tourism.’”

Soon, competitors like the Kolkata-based Zenith Holidays were registering customers for vaccination packages.

Pronab Sarkar, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators, condemned the companies for peddling these junkets. But Zenith Holidays, which generally does not offer travel packages to the U.S., still has on its website a “Vaccine Tourism” tab where customers can fill out a registration form, click send, and within minutes an email from the company pops up in their inbox promising more information soon.

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