India Travel and Tourism plead for government help due to COVID-19
Mass cancellations being experienced because of coronavirus
Even as the loss because of massive cancellations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and the consequent steps being taken is yet to be quantified because of the dynamic situation, the India Travel and Tourism industry, led by the apex body, FAITH, has sought from the government relief by way of reduced taxes, to reduce the adverse impact of visa ban for tourists until April. 15.
The leaders of all the 12 associations under the federation met Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel on March 13, today, and sought his help in trying to convince other ministries also to take steps to curb the adverse impact on tourism, which will hit jobs and create unemployment.
The crisis has come when the country was toying with the idea of having 2021 as “Visit India” year, although no decision has been taken.
Patel has written to Puri, Civil Aviation Minister, to take steps to deal with the adverse consequences of the tourist visa ban.
A 68-year-old woman died in Delhi and a man died in Karnataka because of COVID-19. Masks and sanitizers have been declared essential items to prevent hoarding and black marketing.
Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality
The above association issued the following statement:
On behalf of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), a meeting was called by Sh. Pral ad Singh Patel the Hon. Minister of State (IC) for Tourism & Culture, Government of India today, March 13, 2020 at 11:30 AM at Transpod Bhawan, New Delhi, India.
The following officials from Ministry of Tourism also attended the meeting: Director General Tourism, Additional Director General Tourism, and Joint Secretary Tourism.
From the Tourism Industry side, the following members attended the meeting: Mr. Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary-FAITH; Mrs. Jyoti Mayal, Vice President-FAITH & President Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI); Mr. Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO-FAITH; Mr. Pronab Sarkar, President, lndian Association of Tour Operators (IATO); Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, Adventure Tour Operators’ Association of lndia (ATOAI); Mr. Satish Sebrawat, President, Indian Tourist Transporters Association (lTTA); Mr. Chetan Gupta, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI): Mr. Raoul La, The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI); Ms. Charulata, Hotel Association of India (HAI); Mr. Rakesh Mathur, Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA).
White the Tourism industry appreciates the Government’s efforts in scaling our international borders to keep the country safe from spreading of Corona Vims (COVID 19). At the same time, we expressed our following concerns to the Hon. Minister of Tourism.
- The cancellation of visas has put the industry at a complete standstill and millions of dollars’ worth of losses is expected both in Inbound & Outbound Tourism during the next few months.
- This could increase unemployment in the country; Travel Agents/Tour Operators and Airlines will be reluctantly forced to cut down on staff, resulting in huge unemployment in the country.
- In order to save the industry from disaster it was suggested:
a. That every state Government should be sensitized that they should screen visitors, but in the process not to create panic.
b. GST and other direct and indirect taxes should be exempted on the Aviation & Tourism industry for at least one year. We should send a message to the world that ‘A Holiday in India is Tax Free.’
c. Payment of Advance Tax should be deferred for at least [a few] months, if not a year.
d. The RBI interest rate for the Travel & Tourism Industry should be reduced by at least 37 [percent].
e. A national task force consisting of the Ministry of Health, Finance, Home, Civil Aviation aid External Affairs with the representatives of Travel & Tourism industry should be formed, and this should meet as early as possible, and after this meeting, a meeting with the Hon. Prime Minister should be organized.
- A review meeting of the Task Force should be held within the next 1O-1S days to reinstate the Visas and open at least four International Airports in North, South, East & West so that proper screening can be done.
- The Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA) president mentioned that if there are no tourists, how they will pay the EMI of their banks and the salaries of the drivers and their staffs.
- President of IATO mentioned that the MDA assistance to Tour Operators and Travel Agents should be enhanced and a financial assistance package should also be considered.
- TAAI President, Mrs. Jyoti Mayal, mentioned that the TCS should be abolished on Outbound Tourism, and airlines should be asked to give full refunds for all cancelled tickets. The Hon. Minister mentioned that he has already written to Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri, the Hon. Minister of State for Civil Aviation.
- A 2OOyo weighted exemption of expenses to corporates on all domestic conferences.
- A six to nine months’ moratorium on all principle and interest payments on loans and overdrafts.
- Removal of fees for any upcoming licenses/permits renewal/excise exemption for liquor for the hospitality and Travel industry across the states.
- Restoration of the SEIS scrips for duty credit of … to Tourism, Travel & Hospitality industry.
- Usage of the MNREGA funds to support salaries of employees in the Tourism, Travel & Hospitality industry till the time revival happens.
- Fast track all GST refunds for the industry wherever they are getting stuck.
- 3OO basis point interest rate reduction and immediate transmission to the industry on term loans and working capital loans.
- The proposed TCS on travel in Finance Bill 2020 not to be introduced.
- Automatic increase in working capital limits by 50%.
- Removal of X-Visa requirement for peaks.
The Hon. Tourism Minister assured the members that decision[s have] been [made] in the larger national interest and he assured everyone to request the concerned ministries to review the decision within the next 15 days. Mr. Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary of FAITH thanked the Hon. Tourism Minister on behalf of the entire Tourism industry for calling this important meeting and hoped the Hon. Minister will take up our problems with the respective Ministries.