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Tourism Players Welcome India’s Loan Package For Travel Agencies

The schemes in the tourism sector will encourage foreign tourists as well.

SRINAGAR, India — Indian Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled a loan package for travel agencies and tourist guides to revive the industry. The tourism industry has welcomed the package.

“We welcome post-Covid-lockdown schemes by the government to boost the tourism industry,” Rajesh Gupta, the chairperson of the Tourism Federation in Jammu and Kashmir, said

“The humanitarian move will provide financial support to more than 11,000 registered tourists, guides, travel, and tourism stakeholders. We have to monitor that the benefits provided by this scheme reach the grass-root level.”

“The schemes in the tourism sector will encourage foreign tourists as well. As per the government, once the visa issuance is restarted, the first 500,000 foreign tourists visas will be issued for free. So we hope to see more foreign tourists soon. We hope the beneficiaries will avail the benefits,” Gupta said. 

“During the lockdown, the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir was hit badly,” Deepanka Sengupta, an economist based in Srinagar, said. 

“Here, I believe that the tourism sector is the largest’ employment’ sector. Hence, many people faced job losses. But with these packages, it will be easier for tourist guides to take loans. It will also enhance the liquidity in the market. Therefore, with these announcements by the Finance Ministry, the tourism sector will get the much-needed relief.”

Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to provide relief to diverse sectors affected by the second wave of the pandemic on June 28. 

Under a new scheme, additional credit of INR 1.1 trillion ($1,481 billion) will flow to businesses. This includes INR 50,000 crore ($673.48 billion) for the health sector and INR 60,000 crore ($808.23 billion) for other sectors, including tourism.

Another new scheme aims at providing relief to people working in the tourism sector. Under the new Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid-affected sectors, working capital/personal loans will be provided to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart businesses impacted due to the pandemic. 

The scheme will cover 10,700 regional level tourist guides recognized by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Guides recognized by the State Governments and about 1,000 travel and tourism stakeholders recognized by the Ministry of Tourism.

Travel and tourism stakeholders will be eligible to get a loan up to INR 10 lakh ($13,467) each, while tourist guides can avail of a loan up to INR 1 lakh ($1,347) each. In addition, there will be no processing charges, waiver of foreclosure/prepayment charges, and no requirement of additional collateral. 

The Ministry of Tourism will administer the scheme through the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company.

A free one-month tourist visa will be given to 500,000 tourists. This is another scheme aimed at boosting the tourism sector. It envisages that once visa issuance is restarted, the first 500,000 tourist visas will be issued free of charge. 

However, the benefit will be available only once per tourist. The facility will be applicable till March 31, 2022, or till 500,000 visas are issued, whichever is earlier. The total financial implications of the scheme to the government will be INR 100 crore ($134 billion). 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)

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