India visa fee waiver
In a bid to help revive the tourism sector India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has promised that the first 500,000 visitors will be granted visas free of charge. The scheme will be valid until 31 March, 2022 or until half a million visas have been issued but travellers may only apply once.
Sitharaman also said the government would provide financial assistance to more than 11,000 tour guides and travel agencies.
But while some lockdowns have been eased recently the country doesn’t look like it will be opening for international tourism any time soon. Indeed it is expecting a third wave of infections to kick in around October, 2021. How bad this turns out to be will, no doubt, be dependent on how many people are vaccinated beforehand. There is still a long way to go. As of the end of June only 4-5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
In 2019 the country welcomed almost 18 million visitors who stayed and average of 21 days and contributed over US$ 268 billion to the economy.
Photo: Dawn breaks over Mt. Kanchenjunga and the town of Darjeeling, India.
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