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Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Travel and tourism industry in shock with no relief measures from govt

The sector was expecting relief measures as a part of government 20 lakh crore package which is aimed to build economy and support industries which are badly hit by the pandemic

Travel and tourism industry, one of the worst affected sectors due to Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, expressed disbelief and shock as no economic package or bailout was announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The sector was expecting relief measures as a part of government 20 lakh crore package which is aimed to build economy and support industries which are badly hit by the pandemic. Hospitality and tourism industry which has come to a screeching halt due to lockdown since March leading to massive loss of revenues, jobs as well as cash flows across online and offline travel operators and hospitality players.

Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), which represents more than 1,600 operators for inbound tourists, has urged the government to provide relief measures to the tourism industry.

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

"We have been completely disappointed by government's lack of empathy for the suffering of tourism sector. This sector directly and indirectly employs about 4 crores people yet not a single word of solace for the sector in the entire five press conferences held by FM," said Pronab Sarkar, president, IATO.

Tourism industry was affected even before the lockdown in the month of February, when the international flights and visa were cancelled starting with China and then followed by Italy, Iran, Korea and later by all other countries.

IATO had requested for financial support, refund of advance payments made to the airlines for air tickets, refund of advance payments made for luxury trains and wildlife safaris and all this funds stuck with the airlines, state government, abolishing GST, reducing VISA fee and several other measures all that would have made India an attractive inbound destination.

"The neighbouring countries are already ahead of us in these measures and as and when inbound tourism starts we shall go down further in the wish list of travellers," Sarkar added.

Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the policy federation of all the national associations representing the complete tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India, said the Indian tourism industry has gone into a state of disbelief and shock.

"Indian tourism travel and hospitality is said to impact 10-12% of India’s employment which is believed to cover almost over 5 crore direct and indirect jobs. The industry has gone numb from a lack of any umbrella direction from the Government or without any fiscal and monetary support," the association said in a statement.

FAITH said it has been in constant touch with the PMO, ministries of finance, commerce , aviation, and tourism, with RBI, with all 28 chief ministers, Niti Aayog for the last 10 weeks.

The association had proposed a dedicated interest and collateral free long term fund for paying salaries and operating costs and for a minimum of 12 months of complete waiver of fixed central and state statutory and banking liabilities without any penal or compounding interest which have not been addressed.

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