As COVID-19 cases started declining in India, the Centre decided to permit foreign tourists into the country by offering tourist visas to those flying by chartered planes from October 15. Foreign travellers entering India by regular planes are being given tourist visas from November 15. Additionally, the Centre had also stated earlier that once the issuance of visas resumed, the first 5 lakh tourist visas would be given free of charge. Around 15,000 of these visas have already been issued.
Centre Announces 5 Lakh Tourist Visas For FREE
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced relief measures for boosting the tourism sector of the country. As part of the measures, Sitharaman said that the first 5 lakh tourist visas would be issued free of charge. A tourist can get its benefit only once. A tweet by ANI regarding the announcement reads, “Once international travel resumes, first 5 lakh tourists who come to India will not have to pay visa fees. Scheme applicable till March 31, 2022, or will be closed after distribution of first 5 lakh visas. One tourist can avail benefit only once: Finance Min Nirmala Sitharaman.”
Once international travel resumes, first 5 lakh tourists who come to India will not have to pay visa fees. Scheme applicable till March 31, 2022, or will be closed after distribution of first 5 lakh visas. One tourist can avail benefit only once: Finance Min Nirmala Sitharaman pic.twitter.com/RnLXu9D8lo
— ANI (@ANI) June 28, 2021
Relief Measures Announced For Tourist Guides, Travel Agencies And Stakeholders
The minister also said that over 11,000 registered tourist guides, travel agencies and stakeholders will receive financial support to survive the second wave of COVID-19. People involved in the sector will receive working capital or personal loans to discharge liabilities and restart businesses affected by COVID-19. Under the scheme to be administered by the Ministry of Tourism, they will receive the loans with a 100% guarantee.
5L foreign tourists to be provided with free visa once process starts. 10L loan at concessional rate of interest to travel agencies & 1L for tourist guides announced by FM @nsitharaman . Great initiative at boosting up tourism sector. pic.twitter.com/wy8bIdugSJ
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) June 28, 2021
The Free Visa Scheme Is Applicable Till March 31, 2022
The first five lakh visa scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022 or till the issuance of all the five lakh visas. The overall financial implication of this free visa scheme is around ₹100 crores. After the scheme expires, regular fees will be charged for the visas. Meanwhile, Privilege Visa lets you travel to certain countries despite bans.