People associated with the tourism industry have welcomed finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s loan package for travel agencies and tourist guides which is likely to revive the industry.
Rajesh Gupta, chairperson of Tourism Federation in Jammu and Kashmir, told ANI, “We welcome post COVID lockdown schemes by the Centre to boost the tourism industry. The humanitarian move by the Centre will provide financial support to more than 11,000 registered tourists, guides, travel and tourism stakeholders. We just have to monitor that the benefits provided by this scheme reach the grassroot level.”
“The schemes in the tourism sector will encourage foreign tourists as well. As per the Centre, once the visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh foreign tourists visas will be issued free of charge. It is a great goodwill gesture. We hope to see more foreign tourists in the near future. We hope the beneficiaries will avail the benefits,” Gupta said.
Deepanka Sengupta, an economist by profession in Srinagar said, “During the COVID-19 lockdown, the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir was hit badly. Here, I believe that the tourism sector is the largest ’employment’ sector. Hence, many people faced job losses. But with these packages by the Centre, it will easier for tourist guides to take loans. It will also enhance the liquidity in the market. With these announcements by the Finance Ministry, the tourism sector will get the much-needed relief.”
Yesterday, Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to provide relief to diverse sectors affected by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Under a new scheme, additional credit of Rs 1.1 lakh crore will flow to businesses. This includes Rs 50,000 crore for the health sector and Rs 60,000 crore 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 COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will cover 10,700 regional level tourist guides recognised by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Guides recognised by the State Governments and about 1,000 travel and tourism stakeholders (TTS) recognized by the Ministry of Tourism.
TTS’s will be eligible to get a loan upto Rs 10 lakh each while tourist guides can avail loan upto Rs 1 lakh each. 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 NCGTC.
Free one month tourist visa will be given to 5 lakh tourists. This is another scheme aimed at boosting the tourism sector. It envisages that once visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh tourists visas will be issued free of charge. However, the benefit will be available only once per tourist. The facility will be applicable till 31st March, 2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier. Total financial implications of the scheme to the government will be Rs 100 crore.