In a surprising announcement, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam stated that India will issue 5 lakh tourist visas for free once international travel resumes. According to sources, this scheme will run from the day the government resumes issuance to March 31, 2022. This scheme that will allow the first 5 lakh international tourists to explore India without paying a visa fee will cost Rs 100 crore.
Due to the pandemic, the travel and tourism sector continues to suffer severe blows. To give you a more clear idea, the foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India dropped to a whopping 6.15 billion US Dollars from 29.96 billon US Dollars in 2019. In fact, states like Goa and Karnataka that are most popular among tourists have suffered an estimated loss of Rs 15,000 crore so far. Worldwide, 2020 was declared as the worst year in tourism industry, whereas tourism reduced by 74% in Asian countries. This scheme is an attempt to invite international tourists with open arms in order to combat the financial losses that the country has faced since the beginning of the pandemic.
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