Stranded foreigners seek govt help through online portal

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) The Tourism Ministry on Thursday stated that it has received more than 500 requests from foreigners for help on ‘Stranded in India’ portal, which was launched two days ago.

These tourists got stranded after their vacations abruptly ended by a three-week lockdown and international flights were halted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“In its first two days itself, it has received more than 500 queries and requests for help. The ministry is coordinating assistance to tourists with joint effort and support of the Ministry of External Affairs and state officials to address these queries,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry is also coordinating with the respective embassies regarding problems faced by the guests.

Tourists have sought information on extension of their visas and also on traveling back to their home countries.

Tourists are also facing difficulty in reaching metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai from where flights can be taken out of India once the lockdown is lifted.

The Ministry of Tourism is working actively with the state officials to provide a solution. Emergency requests such as the need for food, medicine and care for the elderly tourists are being expedited.

The Hotels and Restaurant Division of the Ministry has been in touch with several hotels, which are accommodating guests during the lockdown and coordinating with the respective embassies on the problems faced by the guests.

Hotels are also told by the ministry to follow the protocol and extend their support till the departure of such guests is arranged by embassies.

The Ministry has set up a task force comprising its officials, both at the Central and regional levels and representatives of the state tourism departments to address the issues being brought forward in realtime.

The Coordination group is working through Whatsapp and emails and telephones to ensure smooth information flow and speedy redress of issues.

The Ministry has a 24×7 telephone Helpline — 1363 — which is also ensuring correct and updated information to tourists.