The Union Ministry of Tourism has declared that at least 769 foreign tourists have been stranded in the country since the beginning of the lockdown.
According to the sources in the Tourism Ministry, it has launched a portal www.strandedinindia.com on March 31, 2020, with a view to identify, assist and facilitate foreign tourists who are stranded in various parts of India due to the lockdown situation necessitated by the COVID19 global pandemic. Such tourists would need to log on to the portal, provide some basic contact information and narrate the nature of issues being faced by them if any. In the first 5 days of its operation, over 769 foreign tourists from all over the country registered on the portal.
Every State Government and Union Territory Administration has identified a Nodal Officer for assisting such foreign tourists. The 5 Regional Offices of the Ministry of Tourism are constantly coordinating with the Nodal Officers regarding the Support Requests logged on the portal, for facilitating ground support to the foreigners, if so required. The Tourism Ministry Regional Offices are also coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration and FRROs regarding Visa issues being faced by stranded foreigners. Requests for movement within the country or state and for transfer to the home country of such tourists are also being coordinated with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and with the respective Embassy or High Commission, and Consulate.
The utility and efficacy of the portal have led to stranded foreign tourists being contacted over e-mails, telephones and also in person depending on the nature of support required by them. They have been connected with the relevant foreign office of their home country in India and provided various information updates on flights out of India to their home countries. Wherever required, they have been provided medical assistance, food and accommodation.
A lady, who is an American citizen, was stranded in Supaul district of Bihar amidst the COVID19 lockdown, while her son was undergoing surgery at Delhi. The portal facilitated the required inter-ministerial, inter-departmental and State-Centre coordination and secured her a special transit-permit to travel to Delhi. She has safely reached her destination and expressed her gratitude for the efforts put in by all the concerned agencies.
Two Costa Rican citizens, who had come to Chennai for surgery as part of medical tourism, were stranded at Chennai after the surgery. Close coordination with the State Government, the Costa Rican Embassy and the hotel in which the tourists were staying helped in soothing the frayed and panicked nerves of the tourists. They are now safe and well.
An Australian tourist with his family was stranded in Ahmedabad. The tourist has epilepsy and ran out of medication prescribed by Australian doctors due to the lockdown. The portal led to the tourist being reached through the office of the District Collector. He was provided with sufficient medication and was also offered food and local transportation. Now, they are comfortable and safe.
The above are just a few of the many occasions in which the portal helped many foreigners in getting critical assistance at a crucial time. In the coming days, the portal will continue to serve its purpose and the Government are committed to the cause of ensuring the comfort and well being of our foreign guests during their stay in India. That is the spirit of “Atithi Devo Bhava”, the mantra that drives Incredible India!, says the Ministry.