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The Centre on Monday announced that it will issue free tourist visa for 5 lakh tourists. During a press conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced a slew of economic relief measures to held the industry badly hit by the second wave of Covid-19.

Nirmala Sitharaman Press Conference LIVE

During the briefing, the ministry of finance presentation said that 10.93 million foreign tourists visited Indian in 2019, and spent $30.098 billion on leisure and business.

Average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days while average daily spending is around $34 (2400). "Once visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh Tourists Visas will be issued free of charge," it said.

Benefit will be available only once per tourist. The scheme will be applicable till 31st march,2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier. Total financial implication is expected to be 100 crore.

The Centre has also announced financial support to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders. Working capital/personal loans will be provided with a 100 per cent guarantee to people in tourism sector. "No processing charges, waiver of prepayment charges," the ministry said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that to revive tourism sector, the new loan guarantee scheme will support 10,700 regional level tourist guides and Travel and Tourism stakeholders (TTS) recognized by the Ministry of Tourism and the State governments.

The Finance Minister also announced New Credit Guarantee scheme to facilitate loans to 25 lakh persons through Micro Finance Institutions. The interest rate on loans from banks will be capped at MCLR plus 2 per cent. Focus will be on new lending not repayment of old loans.

The government also proposed to provide additional corpus to National Export Insurance Account over five years to allow it to underwrite additional 33,000 crores of project exports.

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