New Delhi [India], December 3 (ANI): Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and DoNER, G Kishan Reddy on Thursday handed over cheques, sanction letters to the first lot of stakeholders who have been granted the loan/ in-principle approval under the Loan Guarantee Scheme for COVID Affected Tourism Sector Services (LGSCATSS) at an event in Delhi, the Ministry of Tourism informed.
The Minister acknowledged that the Tourism sector was one of the most affected service sectors and those dependent on the tourism sector faced a significant depletion in incomes.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi desired that sectors such as Tourism be extended financial support so that Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Tourist Transport Operators, Regional level Tourist and the local guides can sustain themselves in the time of change," Reddy said.
As per the ministry, the LGSCATSS provides support to approved Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Tourist Transport Operators, Regional level Tourist and local guides by the state governments and Union Territories in the form of credit under the Credit Guarantee Scheme at concessional rates.
The purpose of extending financial support/relief to the tourism stakeholders and service providers was to mitigate their hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic and to help them revive their business and livelihood, the ministry said.
The Union Minister further said that currently there is a discussion on the impact of the third wave, "but I believe that strict adherence to COVID protocol will help overcome the situation."
"I urge the citizens of the country to strictly follow the Covid protocol to stay safe and healthy," he said.
Reddy also encouraged families to visit at least two tourism destinations each year and this will help future generations to know about our rich heritage. Various circuits are being developed and connected to make it accessible for tourists.
Reddy also stated that the Ministry of Railways is running specialised trains by leveraging skilled professionals to connect the Buddhist destinations and Ramayan circuit.
As per the press release of the ministry, since 2014, approximately Rs 5,500 crores has been sanctioned towards the development of infrastructure in tourism destinations chosen by states through SWADESH darshan scheme with the aim of developing these destinations to international standards.
More than Rs 1,200 crores has also been sanctioned towards pilgrimage rejuvenation and spiritual heritage augmentation through PRASHAD scheme.
"As part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 destinations will be declared by the government and the destinations will be developed in coordination with the other ministries for facilitating the tourists. The destinations will be made accessible to the International tourists with infrastructure which includes International airports," the release read.
Reddy also spoke about various initiatives and interventions made during COVID-19 to develop tourism.
"Around five lakh visas will be issued to the foreign tourists without any charges and 170 countries are now a part of the e-visa approval facility," he said.
"Government of India has also appointed exclusive officers to promote the country's tourism in 20 missions abroad in countries such as Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Singapore, Korea, Japan," he added.
He also stated that the ministry has been working with other ministries to collaborate on various tourist themes such as Wildlife Tourism, cruise and aqua tourism, eco and rural tourism projects.
"In a short span with the coordination of various departments and ministries we are working towards the development of the sector," Reddy said.
The Union Minister also stated that the Northeast region is unexplored and has a great potential for tourism, tourists from the various parts of the country and world should explore the beautiful destinations.
The operators in the tourism sector and also prospective investors can have confidence in the country's potential growth of the sector, he added. (ANI)