New Delhi: Here comes a piece of good news for tourists from Australia and other foreign countries as they will soon receive over 500,000 free visas to visit India. This was earlier announced by the Central government. Moreover, the Union Home Ministry earlier this month has decided to allow foreign tourists to visit India by chartered flights from October 15 and those by regular planes from November 15.Also Read - Ban on Sale, Use of Firecrackers: How These States Take Strict Measures to Bring Air Pollution Under Control

As the COVID-19 situation has improved in the country, the Central government decided to commence issuing tourist visas. Also Read - Karnataka Lockdown: Bommai Govt Makes Big Announcement, Plans to Relax Curbs For Commercial Establishments, May Open Borders

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said in a statement that the first 500,000 visas would be issued free of charge for foreign tourists. Also Read - Fully Vaccinated Against Covid-19? You Can Now Travel to US From 8 November. 7 Things to Know

And then, in the recent notification, the Home Ministry said that from November 15, tourists could travel via non-chartered flights, particularly those run as part of Vande Bharat Mission or under ‘air bubble’ arrangements with different countries.

With the improvement in the COVID situation, the Centre has slowly lifted restrictions on most categories of foreign visas, such as diplomats and businesspeople. Notably, this would be a good news for many Indian-origin citizens of Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, and other countries who do not have an OCI card and rely on tourist visas to travel to India.

Earlier, the Centre had said that the free visas will be issued once the government reopens borders for leisure tourists and working capital or personal loans will be provided to travel firms and registered tourist guides to discharge liabilities and restart their business.

Giving further details, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the scheme will benefit 11,000 stakeholders including 904 tour operators and 10,700 tourist guides. Loans of Rs 10 lakh and Rs one lakh with hundred percent guarantee will be provided to travel firms and guides respectively, she had said.

“We feel the grant of free visas will be a big game changer for Indian tourism. Several tourists from our key markets in West Europe and the US had postponed their travel to India last year and we hope they will plan trips once we open our borders for them,” Tourism Ministry’s additional director general Rupinder Brar had said earlier.