India to issue 500,000 free visas to boost tourism

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New Delhi

The Indian government will provide free visas to 500,000 tourists visiting India, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

Announcing measures to revive the tourism sector battered by Covid-19, Sitharaman said financial support would be provided to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides, travel and tourism stakeholders.

She said once the visa issuance for international travel is restarted, the first 500,000 tourists will be issued visas free of charge. The total financial implication of this measure would be Rs1 billion.

The scheme would be applicable till March 31, 2022, or till 500,000 visas are issued, whichever is earlier.

This would incentivise short-term tourists visiting India, she said.The government will also provide working capital or personal loans to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities or restart businesses impacted due to Covid-19.

Loans will be provided with 100 per cent guarantee with a limit of Rs1 million for travel and tourism stakeholders and Rs100,000 for registered tourist guides.

Sitharaman further said that Rs232.20 billion more will be provided for public health. This would have special focus on short-term emergency preparedness with special emphasis on children/paediatric care/paediatric beds.

The measures are part of a slew of announcements made by the finance minister on Monday for economic revival.— Reuters

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