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Friday, December 9, 2022

Free Visas For Five Lakh Indian Tourists; Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore To Small Businesses, Travel Agencies

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country harder than the last. Some sectors are more than others.

Due to prolonged travel restrictions imposed on both national and international travel markets, the tourism sector in India has been facing a challenging fate, which it shares with many other industry sectors.

To boost the economic revival of the sunken sectors in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced to roll out eight new schemes in the form of ‘expanding federal guarantees’ on loans businesses, all amounting to about $60.7 billion.

For the tourism sector, which is among the worst-hit in the country, Sitharaman has announced to issue the first five lakh tourist visas free of cost once the visa issuance for international travel resumes.

Sitharaman’s New Schemes to Revive Economy

On Monday, the Finance Minister provided details of an economic package, which encompasses 8 new schemes to boost the sectors burdened under the lash of the pandemic.

These new schemes are covering different industry sectors, right from the healthcare sector to tourism and businesses.

The new schemes come in the form of loan guarantee schemes to ensure the survival of the Covid-19 ravaged industries.

  • Businesses will be extended federal guarantees on loans to the degree of about $60.7 billion.
  • Similar federal guarantees will be extended to the healthcare sector, of the volume of 14.8 billion dollars on loans for medical infrastructure.
  • The benefits from the free foodgrain program will continue for the underprivileged (people) until November, for which Sitahraman has allocated Rs 938.7 billion.
  • Significant aid will be extended to the tourism sector and in large volumes. This includes providing working capital or personal loans to tourism agents and businesses to restart their businesses while discharging outstanding liabilities.

Significant Aid Extended to Tourism Sector

As states begin to lift restrictions amid declining cases of Covid-19 in the country, the Government has announced new schemes to uplift the reeling tourism sector in the country.

  • Sitharaman has announced to issue 5 lakh tourist visas for free once the curbs on international visa issuance are lifted.
  • The Government recognized travel agents would be eligible for loans up to Rs 10 lakh, while such tour guides can sign up for loans worth Rs 1 lakh, both without any collateral or processing charge.
  • The ‘reviving tourism’ package will cover 10,700 regional level tourist guides recognized by the Government, both the Union tourism ministry and states, along with 904 travel and tourism travel agents recognized by the Government.
  • This is done to help the tourism sector restart businesses impacted due to Covid-19 and discharge liabilities.
  • “The focus is on new lending, and not repayment of old loans. All borrowers (including defaulters upto 89 days) are eligible for the scheme,” added Sitharaman.

“The average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days and their average daily spending per tourist is about $34 (Rs 2400). Once the tourism visa issuance resumes, the first five lakh tourist visas will be issued free of charge. A scheme would apply until March 31, 2022, or until 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier. This would incentivise short-term tourists visiting India,” said Sitharaman. This scheme will forgo Rs 100 crore revenue.

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