By Naveen KapoorNew Delhi [India] September 24 (ANI): As Covid cases show continuous downtrend, India is all set to open the country for foreign tourists after a gap of 1.5 years, ANI has learnt. Officials of the Tourism Ministry and Home Affairs had met on this matter and it is likely that tourist visa will be restored soon.
The Ministry of Finance has announced already to give free tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists who will be visiting India subsequent to the restoration of the tourist visa.
India is expecting slow arrival of tourists keeping in view post Covid scenario. According to an internal assessment done by the Ministry of Tourism it is likely that till March next year the country would be able to get 5 lakh tourists if all goes well.
To get the tourism industry back on track and fill coffers with foreign exchange, India is expected to offer gratis visas to major source markets first. India is also expecting stiff competition from neighbouring countries.
In order to utilise the optimum benefits of giving gratis tourist visas to the first 5 lakh tourists, it is expected India will keep the focus on major source markets of Europe, America, Australia and countries like Japan and Korea, which yield high returns in the form of foreign exchange earnings.
Inter-governmental discussion between Tourism, Finance and Home Affairs on finalising modalities has been going on and it is most likely that decision will be taken keeping in mind the major foreign exchange earning markets while extending the benefits of gratis visa to first 5 lakh tourists and extending the benefits of the scheme beyond March 31, 2021.
More than 10.93 million tourists arrived in India in the pre-Covid year of 2019. (ANI)