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TN travel agents get boost after Centre's offer on free visas to foreign tourists

Tour operators in the city are flooded with calls after the announcement by the Central government allocating five lakh free visas to foreign nationals who are to travel to India on tourist and visit visas.

Updated Jul 01, 2021 10:15 AM

TN travel agents get boost after Centre's offer on free visas to foreign tourists

While the tour and travel operators of the city were sceptical on the arrival of tourists to the country, the flood of calls that they are receiving mainly from France, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, and the US have flabbergasted them.

M. Murugesan, a tour operator with a leading travel agency at Royapetth in Chennai told IANS, "We were not very interested in the announcement as with Covid-19 second wave still on, we were not expecting tourists coming to India but we were surprised when almost all travel and tour operators in the city started getting flooded with calls from people of Tamil origin and citizens of France, the UK, the US, Malaysia and Singapore making frenetic calls to come to India."

Tour operators said that most of these tourists are coming to the country on pilgrimage as several of them were not able to visit their favourite temples because of the Covid induced lockdown.

Tour operator Madhavan Raja Manickam told IANS, "I got calls from the UK and the US for group travel and they wanted an all South India tour, several are foreigners but some are Indian born foreign citizens. Anyway these calls have increased my confidence and the reduction in GST rates for foreign travellers would increase the number of tourists touching the country."

The tourist season commences from September and continues till February increasing business of tourist taxi operators, hotels, restaurants, motels, resorts, and also curio shops and other shops selling unique artefacts.

Tour operators also said that there were several tourists who have shown interest from Malaysia and Singapore and most of them are for pilgrimage tourism. A section of tourists from Malaysia also preferred medical tourism as Chennai is home to some very noted multi-specialty hospitals. Sources in the tour industry told IANS that there were several enquiries for Madurai Arabindo Eye hospital and Apollo Hospital, Chennai.

With back to back waves of pandemic causing panic, the measure of the Central government to allow 5 lakh free visas would definitely cause relief to the distressed tourism sector.

Kalayanaraman, a tourist taxi operator in Chennai while speaking to IANS said, "We were dull with the business for the past two years and I had almost made up my mind to quit this industry and to work as a daily wager to support my family. However, this announcement has indeed boosted the industry and the travel agencies through which I get my work have all received several calls and most of them are serious about travelling to India and especially South India".

The industry is, however, expecting that the state government increases its vaccination drive and creates maximum awareness among the general public on Covid-19 as foreign tourists will be much more careful while in India. Any negative report from the first batches of the visitors can give a totally different picture of the country and could reduce the footfalls, the industry leaders added.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by FreshersLIVE.Publisher : IANS-Media