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It also urged waiver of all fixed charges such as electricity, water and property for the period of lockdown (Photo: Hindustan Times)
It also urged waiver of all fixed charges such as electricity, water and property for the period of lockdown (Photo: Hindustan Times)

CII urges govt to open hotels; build consumer confidence to travel

In a letter dated 13 August, the committee said that hotels across categories should be allowed to operate without any restrictions of timings

New Delhi: In a bid to drive back consumption and unlock hospitality and tourism sector, the national committee on tourism & hospitality of industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has made key recommendations to the government. In a letter dated 13 August, the committee said that hotels across categories should be allowed to operate without any restrictions of timings.

"It is suggested if banquets and convention centers be allowed to take meetings, conference, seminar, social functions etc. with no restrictions of numbers but linked to the size of banquet hall- 36 sq. ft per person, as safe social distancing for such gatherings," stated the letter.

It also urged waiver of all fixed charges such as electricity, water and property for the period of lockdown. A deferment for twelve months of all statutory dues (post the waiver period). The extension period for licenses, to be renewed at the end of 2020, should be extended to the following year, 2021.

To build consumer confidence, the government and the industry through a Public-Private Partnership

(PPP) model should undertake a marketing campaign for the general public to promote India as a safe destination to travel to and within. This partnership can be for a two-year period.

To facilitate travel amidst the ongoing pandemic, airports need to have active testing centers/ facilities where Rapid Antigen Tests can be conducted on all arrivals and/or carry out a medical examination for symptoms allowing for travellers to be ease. Uniformity in quarantine rules and availability of e-Pass etc. Currently, several states have different rules. Negative test results (RT-PCR or Antigen) should mean no quarantine requirement.

For hotel accommodation, all guests staying longer than three days to be administered Rapid Antigen Test

after 48 hours of arrival. If result is positive, guest to be quarantined and further administered a RTPCR test.

The committee said that pandemic has created an increased need to promote the domestic tourism of the country by introducing incentives and marketing destinations well. A 200% weighted exemption of all expenses to corporates on all domestic conferences should be given to encourage MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism. E-visa should either be made free or be given at a nominal cost till December 2021 including tourist, business, medical and conferences visas. It also suggested providing a zero-rating GST on MICE, and domestic tours. It is imperative that the government provide GST refunds to international tourists.

Apart from marketing cities as tourism hubs in the country, the committee also suggested to launch “I am Incredible" program for people working in the tourism industry. It will be an Aadhar linked online and internationally accredited program to train, evaluate and grade people in tourism such as restaurant staff, porters at airports, cab drivers, shopkeepers among others. The program will be based on technical, language and psychometric learning/tests and gradation. The Aadhar linkage will allow maintaining database of people trained in the program.

"It will act as a tourism ambassadors/ facilitators on ground. Evaluate a gratuity to be transferred to accounts of these “on-ground ambassadors" if below certain income level to encourage participation and motivation," the letter read.

The industry body also suggested creating an umbrella organisation National Tourism Board with private sector involvement and professionals on board to run various aspects of the tourism industry.

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