Indian travel, tourism and hospitality industry had been quite hopeful to get a bailout package from the Centre. All associations, under the umbrella body FAITH, tried their best to draw the attention of the Government.
The entire tourism industry has been totally disappointed that out of the 20 lac crores bail-out package, not a single rupee has actually come for bail-out of the travel tourism & hospitality industry, said Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary-FAITH. Nakul Anand, Chairman-FAITH has written the following very strong letter to the Hon’ble Tourism Minister reiterating the demands of all the ten associations of the tourism & hospitality industry.
“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 Hon’ble Finance Minister.
Tourism industry has borne the maximum brunt of this pandemic and an industry of the size of Rs. 18 lakh crore is on the brink of collapse. Tourism industry was the first, which was affected even before the lockdown in the month of February, when the international flights and visa got cancelled starting with China, followed by Italy, Iran, Korea and then followed by all the countries. Lack of any mitigating announcement by the Finance Minister in the series of announcements made, only goes to show that government consider the entire sector not worthy of any attention. The government says take loans to pay salaries, by the way which business takes loans on interest for paying salaries, the loans are meant for expansion, when the business is not happening what will we expand. We 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, enhance SEIS to 10%, 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 travelers,” Pronab Sarkar, President, Indian Associations Of Tour Operators (IATO), said.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) and President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) said “We are in a state of shock because of the insensitivity shown by the Government! As always, the hospitality industry has been completely ignored. It’s almost as if our existence or imminent doom does not matter at all. The hospitality industry pledges its hotel rooms to the Government for accommodating the quarantined, we prepare and distribute lakhs of free meals to lakhs of people and we support the govt whenever they call for us but unfortunately we do not even figure in their list of sectors that are in desperate need of help. We are very concerned how Tourism which was specifically mentioned by the PM in his adress at the Red fort as one of the five pillars that drove the economy of the country was not featured as one of the pillars in his updated list in a recent address to the nation. We have made several representations to the Government informing it about the current state of our industry. We have clearly outlined the consequences in terms of the economic repercussions, the set back to tourism and hospitality and most importantly, about how it is and will affect the employment of the millions who depend on this sector directly and indirectly. The FHRAI calls for the Centre to pay immediate attention to hospitality and tourism which contributes almost 10 per cent to the GDP. We are immediately writing to the Hon. FM, the PMO and also the RBI again pleading for justice to be done to the hospitality and tourism industry”.
Jyoti Mayal President TAAI & Vice Chairperson-FAITH says “It is very sad that such a huge industry of travel tourism hospitality & aviation has not been mentioned even once in the entire bail-out package of our Finance Minister. We are going to see a lot of unemployment & businesses getting shut. We understand that the PMs focus on better infrastructure & for the underprivileged but what is the use of infrastructure if the the industry only doesn't survive ? What is the use of reduction in gst tcs TDS for a couple of months if there is not going to be any business ? Unless we get a survival package as requested for there is not going to be a thrust in revival for our members. We were also looking for ease of transacting business which doesn't cost the government anything. The government has left us nirbhar on ourselves.”
Pradip Lulla President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) says “It's a big disappointment that in the huge bailout package of 20lakh crores the travel and tourism We sector has received no stimulus or positive cash flow solutions as we are the most vulnerable with zero business .As 10% GDP contributors and paying taxes for all these years we have been left on our own to weather the storm.”
Amaresh Tiwari, Vice Chairman, India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) reiterates the MICE industry’s immediate demands as follows: allow us to open Meetings and Conference Venues both hotel and standalone venue. MICE Participants and Gathering are two different things. MICE is having its standard, guidelines and adhere to all rules and regulations of safety & hygiene. He also suggested creation of India MICE fund under ICPB to market and promote MICE under Champion Sector Schemes of Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Tourism.
PP Khanna, President, Association of Domestic Tour Operators Association (ADTOI) said that there is no cash flow at all in the domestic tourism and it has not been supported at all. Travel within the country may slightly ease up post lockdown but will be highly restricted due to fear of travel among elders & children, social distancing norms, corporate travel freeze and the closure of the holiday season but will be highly restricted due to fear of travel among elders & children, social distancing norms, corporate travel freeze and the closure of the holiday season impacting all adventure, heritage, spiritual, cruise and niche tourism segments.
Satish Sehrawat, President, Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA) says that the tourist taxi operators have not been able to pay the EMIs of the vehicles they own in the absence of cash flow. Also they have not been able to pay the salaries to their drivers.
The Tourism industry has expressed its shock and disappointment over not being included in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package, the guidelines for which were announced by the Minister of Finance of India, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman in a series of press conference recently, the Indian Heritage Hotels Association, said.
The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India has sought the intervention of the Ministry of Tourism that industry must be given financial support at this time of crisis to ensure the revival of the industry.