IATO urges govt to announce dates for restoration of e-visa, tourist visas

The e-visa facility has been extended to nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports, from the 16 earlier

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) on Monday said it has urged the government to announce the dates for restoration of e-visas and tourist visas and normalisation of international flights.

Such a move will not just send a positive signal to the international tourists about India being ready and prepared to receive them but will also allow inbound tour operators to plan ahead for 2021, IATO said in a statement.

This will also give some encouragement to the pandemic-hit industry, which has had almost zero earnings and no meaningful help from the government, it added.

"To save the tourism jobs and the industry, it is imperative that the plan for inbound tourism should start as early as possible for which the Ministry of Tourism and the stakeholders should start international marketing," IATO President Pronab Sarkar said.

This can only be possible if the industry stakeholders know of the government's plans of opening e-visas and tourist visas and resumption of international flights, so that accordingly it can inform foreign tour operators and clients and they can promote India as a safe destination well in advance, he added.

This is very important because international tourists take at least three-six months to commence their journey for their holiday travel to any destination, Sarkar said.

"If no timely action is taken by us, foreign tour operators / tourists will look for other destinations and India may lose the chance for the rest of the winter and summer season of 2021," he added.

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