India Issues 5 Lakh Free Visas To Boost Tourism; Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore Credit For Small Businesses, Travel Agents

India Issues 5 Lakh Free Visas To Boost Tourism; Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore Credit For Small Businesses, Travel Agents
India Issues 5 Lakh Free Visas To Boost Tourism; Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore Credit For Small Businesses, Travel Agents

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic left the country more economically crippled than the last one, some sectors more than the other.

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 too.

In order to boost the economic revival of the sunken sectors in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced to roll out eight new schemes in the form of ‘expanding federal guarantees’ on loans to 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

The Finance Minister on Monday 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 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 $14.8 billion dollars on loans for medical infrastructure.
  • The benefits from the free foodgrain programme will continue for the underprivileged (people) until November, for which Sitahraman has allocated Rs 938.7 billion.
  • Major 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 with an aim to restart their businesses, while discharging outstanding liabilities.

Major 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 is lifted.
  • The government recognised travel agents will be eligible for loans upto 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 a total of 10,700 regional level tourist guides recognized by the government, both Union tourism ministry and states, along with 904 travel and tourism travel agents recognised 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. The scheme would be applicable till March 31, 2022, or till 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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