In a major boost for the tourism sector that has seen a bloodbath due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has now announced that it will issue free tourist visas for 5 lakh tourists. While addressing a press conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to provide the much-needed relief to the travel industry which has been shattered by the second wave.
The ministry of finance presentation revealed that 10.93 million foreign tourists visited Indian in 2019, and spent $30.098 billion on leisure and business.
The average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days while the average daily spending is around $34 (Rs 2400). “Once visa issuance is restarted, the first five lakh Tourists Visas will be issued free of charge,” Sitharaman said.
This benefit will only be given to one tourist at a time and the scheme will remain applicable till March 2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued. The total financial implication is expected to be Rs 100 crore.
Besides these, the Centre has further announced financial support to over 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders. Working capital/personal loans will be provided with a 100 percent guarantee to people in the tourism sector. “No processing charges, waiver of prepayment charges,” the ministry said.