City News Gathered

Portal for foreign tourists helps them get medical aid, transit permits

NEW DELHI: The government’s portal to help foreign tourists stranded in India saw 769 registrations in the last five days with an American, Costa Rican and an Australian with medical emergencies among those helped through the website.
The portal- – was launched on March 31, with a view to identify, assist and facilitate foreign tourists stranded in various parts of India due to the lockdown situation necessitated by the Covid-19 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.
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Every State Government and Union Territory Administration has identified a Nodal Officer for assisting such foreign tourists, a statement from the ministry said.
An American citizen who was stranded in Supaul district of Bihar amidst the Covid-19 lockdown, while her son was undergoing a surgery at Delhi reached out to the officials through the portal which 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 agencies concerned,” confirmed an official of the ministry.
Two Costa Rican citizens, who had come to Chennai for a surgery (medical tourism), were stranded at Chennai after the surgery. It was again the use of the portal and close coordination with the state government, the Costa Rican Embassy and the hotel in which the tourists were staying helped in soothing the frayed nerves of tourists, the ministry said.
They are now safe and well, they added.
Similarly, 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,” an official said.
In a statement on Monday, the ministry said that its five regional offices are constantly coordinating with nodal officers regarding the support requests logged on the portal, for facilitating ground support to foreigners, if so required. The ministry’s regional offices are also coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration and FRROs regarding visa issues being faced by stranded foreigners, it said.
“Requests for movement within the country/state and for transfer to home country of such tourists are also being coordinated with the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and with the respective Embassy/ High Commission/ Consulate.
“The utility and efficacy of the portal has led to stranded foreign tourists being contacted over emails, telephones and also in person depending on the nature of support required by them,” the statement said.
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, it said.

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