India To Issue 500,000 Free Travel Visas For Supporting Tourism - Finance Minister

India to Issue 500,000 Free Travel Visas For Supporting Tourism - Finance Minister

NEW DELHI (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 28th June, 2021) India plans to undertake special measures to support tourism impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the issuance of 500,000 free travel visas, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

"Once we start visa issuance again, the first five lakh [500,000] tourist visas will be issued totally free of charge. This will benefit for any tourists only once. The scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022, or till the first five lakh of visas get covered," the minister said.

Sitharaman added that the authorities will also support over 10,000 registered tourist guides and more than 900 tourist agencies that will get loans to discharge liabilities and restart their businesses.

India suspended international and internal air travels in late March 2020 following the introduction of the isolation regime. Last July, the civil aviation ministry approved the "air transport bubbles" program providing international flights in compliance with bilateral agreements with other countries. These deals limit the number of flights and define who can visit the countries. Although India already signed such agreements with 27 countries, including France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US, tourists are barred from visiting the country.

India still occupies the second place in the world in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. The country already registered over 30.2 million cases and more than 396,000 deaths.