On behalf of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), Mr Prahad Singh Patel, Minister of State (IC) for Tourism & Culture, Government of India called a meeting on 13th March 2020 at Transport Bhawan, New Delhi. The other officials present here were Director General Tourism, Additional Director General Tourism and Joint Secretary Tourism.
Besides the above officials, Mr Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary(FAITH), Jyoti Mayal, Vice President (FAITH) & President Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO (FAITH), Pronab Sarkar, President Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Capt Swadesh Kumar, President, Adventure Tour Operators’ Association of India (ATOAI), Satish Sebrawat, President, Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA), Chetan Gupta, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), Rahul Lal, The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), Charulata, Hotel Association of India (HAI), Rakesh Mathur, Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) were present in the meeting.
The Tourism industry appreciated the Government’s efforts in scaling the international borders to keep India safe from spreading of COVID 19. At the same time, they expressed the following concerns to the Minister of Tourism –
- The cancellation of visas has put the industry at a complete standstill. Therefore, millions of dollars worth of losses are expected both in Inbound & Outbound Tourism during tie next few months.
- This could increase unemployment in the country as the 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 the disaster it was suggested:
- That every state Government should be sensitized that they should screen visitors, but in the process not to create panic.
- GST and other direct and indirect taxes should be exempted on the Aviation & Tourism industry for at least one year. India should send a message to the world that “A Holiday in India is
- Payment of Advance Tax should be deferred for at least 6 months, if not a year.
- The RBI interest rate for the Travel & Tourism Industry should be reduced by at least 3%.
- 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 Honorable Prime Minister should be organized.
- A review meeting of the Task Force should be held within the next 1O-15 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, they will not be able to pay the EMI of their banks and the salaries of the drivers and their staff.
- President- 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, Jyoti Mayal mentioned that the TCS should be abolished on Outbound Tourism and Airline should give full refund for all cancelled tickets. The Honorable Minister also mentioned that he has already written to Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation.
- A 200% 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/travel industry across the states.
- Restoration of the SEIS scrips for duty credit of 10% to Tourism, Travel & Hospitality industry.
- Usage of the MNREGA funds to support the 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.
- 300 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 Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel assured the members that decision has been taken in the larger national interest. He also assured everyone to request the concerned ministries to review the decision within the next 15 days. Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary(FAITH) thanked the Tourism Minister on behalf of the entire Tourism Industry for calling this important meeting. He also hoped the Honorable Minister to take their problems to the concerned ministries.