Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel virtually attended the BRICS Tourism Ministers' meeting on Wednesday and highlighted the effect of the coronavirus pandemic in India across all sectors of the economy.
He said like, in countries around the world, the tourism sector here too was facing a number of challenges due to the pandemic.
"The tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy of the country, both in GDP and employment apart from being a key sector for foreign exchange earnings. This sector has been hit the hardest by the pandemic," a statement from the ministry quoted Patel as saying.
The Central government has announced several economic stimulus packages and many other fiscal and relief measures for the survival of businesses, employee retention, and sectoral revival. The state governments too have taken similar measures to support the businesses," he said.
The minister further stated that the Indian tourism, travel, and hospitality industry is highly diverse and there are micro, small, medium, and large enterprises across the whole spectrum.
The government has laid out a vision for a self-reliant India whereby collateral-free automatic loans have been made available for MSMEs to enable them to deal with the crisis, he said.
"The Ministry of Tourism has been in a continuous dialogue with the representatives of tourism and hospitality industry stakeholders to discuss solutions and the way forward to revive the tourism economy by reviving demand, especially through the promotion of domestic tourism to build the confidence and trust of tourists," he said.
Patel informed the meeting that India is gradually opening up to receive visitors and has made bubble arrangements with 18 countries.
"India has also restored existing visas for business, conference, employment, studies, research, and medical purposes. I look forward to the early revival of the global tourism sector," he said.