Travel sector urges Centre to resume tourist visas

Pandemic-hit travel sector urges Centre to resume tourist visas

The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has led to massive fall in demand for leisure and vacation travel

Representative image/Credit: AFP Photo

The hospitality industry has urged the government to start issuing tourist visas to boost the struggling sector hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A task force comprising representatives from the airline, hospitality and travel sectors have also urged the government to expand the travel bubble arrangements to allow tourists to visit India.

The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has led to massive fall in demand for leisure and vacation travel and the sector was staring at a potential loss of 0.9-1.2 trillion dollars worldwide, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation has estimated.

The task force of representatives from the airlines such as IndiGo, Vistara, GoAir, travel associations such as the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), and airport operators have been meeting government officials, seeking steps to revive the demand in the tourism sector.

IATO and TAAI representatives have met officials in the ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism and Home Affairs and also written to them to open up tourist visas, as it would give a much need push to struggling tourism and hospitality industry.

Also, Air Travellers Association (ATA), in a letter to Minister of Civil Aviation  Hardeep Singh Puri, requested the government for resumption of all visas, including Business, Tourist and Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) categories, the inclusion of more countries into air bubble agreement and opening of international travel in a phased manner.

Pre-Covid lockdown, leisure and holiday travel was the biggest segment of travellers accounting for approximate 20.3 million annually, which was approximately  41% of the total traffic.