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Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Cash-strapped tourism firms to knock on Centre’s door for relief

  • The industry has urgently sought 6-12 month waiver on loans, municipal taxes and deferment of licence fee
  • The absence of immediate funds will lead to job losses, bankruptcies, and destruction of the tourism model in India, say industry leaders

NEW DELHI : Almost two months of suspended operations has left the hospitality and tourism companies bleeding and industry associations are extremely disappointed with the absence of any relief package from the government.

The industry is struggling without any umbrella direction from the government and without any fiscal and monetary support, said the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), which represents the entire industry in India.

The sector was expecting some relief measures as part of the 20-trillion Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package aimed at boosting the economy and support industries hit by the covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m devastated as are most of my colleagues in the hospitality business. Between hospitality, hotels, and airlines we have taken the biggest brunt of this pandemic and a lot of us will not survive," said Ajay Bakaya, managing director, Sarovar Hotels.

The industry had urged the Centre for a 6-12 month waiver on loans, both on principal and interest. It has also approached state governments to consider electricity charges on consumption basis, waiver of municipal taxes, and deferment of licence fees, including for alcohol. “Some states such as Gujarat and Kerala along with few others have given exemptions. We will all huddle and keep pushing for more measures,“ Bakaya said.

The hospitality industry urgently needs the government to facilitate a one-time restructuring of loans by banks without having to take a provisioning hit, besides soft loans for working capital, said Sanjay Sethi, managing director and chief executive , Chalet Hotels.

“We now look to states for relief on benefits as an industry for electricity tariff, excise fee waiver, property tax reduction, and ease on labour laws."

The absence of immediate funds will lead to job losses, bankruptcies, and destruction of the tourism model in India, said Vijay Dewan, managing director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd, and chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s West Bengal State Council.

Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), which represents more than 1,600 operators for inbound tourists, had sought financial support, refund of advance payments made to airlines for tickets, refund of advance payments made for luxury trains and wildlife safaris and all funds stuck with the airlines. It has also urged the governments to abolish the goods and services tax and reduce GST and the visa fee to make India an attractive destination when normalcy returns.

IATO estimated that 38 million jobs associated with tourism are at stake and the economy can lose revenue of about 5 trillion in the next year.

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