Covid-19: No SOP yet for 5 lakh of free visas for foreign travelers

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CHENNAI: Although the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have launched the revival of the reception of international tourists after Covid-19, the Union government has not published any modalities and SOPs for the issuance 5 lakh free visas to foreign travelers before March 2022.
This has an impact on the revival of the inbound tourism vertical as a month of the crucial peak tourism month between September and March is over. The non-resumption of scheduled international flights is another major bottleneck in reviving inbound tourism, as only a limited number of planes are operated under the “air bubble” during the pandemic.
Tamil Nadu, in particular, is one of the worst affected states in the country due to the non-resumption of inbound tourism, as the state is a number one in attracting the highest number of foreign tourists for 6 years until ‘in 2019 before Covid-19.
Demand for flights to Dubai and the Maldives is increasing, while Sri Lanka has reopened its borders to international travelers. Chennai-based tour operator Sriharan Balan, managing director of Madura Travel Service, said demand from tourists from Malaysia, France and the UK was encouraging shortly after the announcement of 5 lakh of free visas in June. .
“While the Tamil Diaspora of Malaysia wanted to visit Tamil Nadu for spiritual tourism, we have received requests from our overseas agents in France and the UK for individual travelers and those planning to explore the India in small groups, ”he said. Now our focus on international tourism is on quarantine packages for UK, US and Canada through other countries and sightseeing tours to Dubai, he said, adding that the biggest challenge was the substantial increase in air fares.
Kamal R Jadhwaniz, Vice President of the Federation of Indian Travel Agents, said: “The lack of regular international flights has become a problem for the resumption of travel. The fares are high because there are fewer flights than bubble flights. We hope the government will lift the restriction after October 31. The government is expected to resume scheduled flights and is also expected to push countries to approve Covaxin. Many people cannot travel because they have to undergo quarantine abroad. ”
Subash Goyal, chairman of the New Delhi-based Confederation of Tourism Professionals, said: “We have lost at least US $ 50 billion in foreign currency due to inbound tourism after Covid-19. Although the government has announced that free 5 lakh visas will be issued to international travelers before March 2022, it has yet to be rolled out. ”


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