The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the umbrella body of the industry, has sought intervention and several reliefs from the Ministry of Tourism to tackle the challenges emerged out of the coronavirus.
In a meeting with Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, the delegation of FAITH expressed various concerns to the Minister. The meeting was attended by Subhash Goayl, Hony Secretary, FAITH; Jyoti Mayal, Vice President, FAITH and President, Travel Agents Association of India; Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, FAITH; Pronab Sarkar, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators; Swadesh Kumar, President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India; Satish Sehrawat, Indian Tourist Transporters Association, Chetan Gupta, General Secretary, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India; Rahul Lal of FHRAI, Charulata from Hotel Association of India and Rakesh Mathur of Indian Heritage Hotel Association.
The delegation expressed following concerns to the Minister:
1. The cancellation of visas has put the industry at a complete standstill and millions of dollars’ worth of losses is expected both in inbound and outbound tourism during the next few months.
2. This would 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.
3. In order to save the industry from disaster it was suggested:
(a) That every state government should be sensitized that they should screen visitors, but I nthe process not to create panic.
(b) GST and other direct and indirect taxes should be exempted on the aviation and tourism industry for at least one year. We should send a message to the world that ‘A holiday in India is tax free’.
(c) Payment of Advanced Tax should be deferred for atleast 6 months, if not a year.
(d) The RBI interest rate for the travel and tourism industry should be reduced by atleast 3 per cent.
(e) A National Task Force consisting of Ministry of Health, Finance, Home, Civil Aviation and External Affairs with the representative of travel and tourism industry should be formed and this should meet as early as possible and after this meeting, a meeting with the Prime Minister should be organized.
4. A review meeting of the Task Force should be held within the next 10-15 days to reinstate the visas and open at least four international airports in North, South, East and West so that proper screening can be done.
5. IATO President mentioned that the MDA assistance to tour operators and travel agents should be enhanced and a financial assistance package should also be considered.
6. TAAI President mentioned that the TCS should be abolished on outbound tourism and airlines should be asked to give full refund for all cancelled tickets. Tourism Minister mentioned that he has already written to the Civil Aviation Minister
7. A 200 per cent weighted exemption of expenses to corporates on all domestic conferences.
8. A six month moratorium on all principle and interest p[payments on loans and overdrafts.
9. Removal of fees for any upcoming licenses/permits renewal/excise exemption for liquor for the hospitality and travel industry across the states.
10. Restoration of SEIS scrips for duty credit of 10 per cent to tourism, travel and hospitality industry.
11. Usage of MNREGA funds to support salaries of employees in the industry till the revival happens.
12. Fast track of GST refunds for the industry wherever they are getting stuck.
13. 300 basis point interest rate reduction and immediate transmission to the industry on term loans and working capital loans.
14. The proposed TCS on travel in Finance Bill 2020 not to be introduced.
15. Automatic increase in working capital limits by 50 per cent.
16. Removal of X-Visa requirement for peaks.
Patel assured the members that decision has been taken in the larger national interest and he assured everyone to request the concerned ministries to review the decision within the next 15 days.