By Naveen Kapoor As Covid cases show a continuing downward trend, India is poised to open the country to foreign tourists after a 1.5-year gap, ANI has learned. Officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Home Affairs had met about this and it is likely that the tourist visa will soon be reinstated.
The Ministry of Finance has already announced that it will grant free tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists who will visit India after the tourist visa is restored. India expects a slow arrival of tourists with the post-Covid scenario in view. According to an internal assessment by the Ministry of Tourism, it is likely that until March of next year, the country will be able to accommodate 5 lakh of tourists if all goes well.
To get the tourism industry back on track and fill the coffers with foreign currency, India should first offer free visas to major source markets. India also expects fierce competition from neighboring countries. In order to utilize the optimum benefits of granting free tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists, India is expected to focus on the major source markets of Europe, America, Australia and from countries like Japan and Korea, which generate high returns in the form of foreign exchange earnings.
An intergovernmental discussion between tourism, finance and home affairs on finalizing the modalities is underway and it is very likely that the decision will be made keeping in mind the major foreign currency markets while extending the benefits of the visa. free to first tourists 5 lakh and extend program benefits beyond March 31, 2021. More than 10.93 million tourists arrived in India in the pre-Covid year of 2019. (ANI)
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