Free tourist visas to first 5-lakh, a morale booster

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 28, 2021

According to the official estimates, around 10.93 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019, spent $30.098 billion on leisure and business.   -  PTI

The visa scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022

The tourism industry feels that the announcements made by Finance Minister would boost the morale of one of the worst-affected sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Finance Minister announced slew of measures to revive the tourism sector, including free tourist visa to the first 5 lakh tourists once visa issuance is restarted.

“FM’s announcement on free visa has a strong symbolic message that we have the confidence to welcome visitors and that tourism and hospitality is a strong pillar of post-Covid economic recovery strategy. We sincerely hope that such measures will be logically followed by measures to make the industry recover and be ready to welcome tourists,” said MP Bezbaruah, Secretary-General, Hotel Association of India.

Support to travel guides

According to the official estimates, around 10.93 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019, spent $30.098 billion on leisure and business. The average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days while average daily spending of a tourist in India is around $34 (₹2,400). The scheme to issue first 5 lakh free visas will be applicable till March 31, 2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier.

The Finance Minister announced financial support to around 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders. Under the new loan guarantee scheme for Covid-affected sectors, working capital/personal loans will be provided to people in tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart businesses impacted due to Covid-19.

“We would thank the government for considering personal loan to the tour operators and the guides but requests that it considers giving one-time financial grant to all recognised tour operators which could be 50 per cent of the wages paid by the tour operators in 2019-20 and ₹2.5 lakh to each tourist guide recognised by the Ministry of Tourism/State Government,” said Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators.

Inbound tourism to recover

These loans will be provided with 100 per cent guarantee up to ₹10 lakh for travel and tourism stakeholders (per agency) and ₹1 lakh for tourist guides licenced at regional or State level. There will be no processing charges, waiver of foreclosure/prepayment charges. It will be administered by the Ministry of Tourism through National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company.

“This move will surely boost the morale of the travel and tourism sector and aid in the faster recovery of inbound tourism. With vaccination drive gathering pace and resumption of activities, we are optimistic that normal international flights will resume operations soon. We expect to see similar moves from other countries to attract foreign tourists once borders open,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and Director, ixigo.

Published on June 28, 2021

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