The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO, an apex body representing more than 1600 inbound tour operators, urged the government to provide relief measures to the tourism industry which has suffered a blow due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
While supporting the government’s call for a nationwide 21-day long lockdown, the body said that the tourism industry has suffered heavy losses amid zero cash flow. This has put the survival of the entire industry in question.
To tide over the crisis, IATO wants advances paid to hotels, airlines and to state governments for luxury trains, wildlife safaris, road tax to be entirely refunded. The scrapping of GST in entirety for a period of one year for all outbound, inbound and domestic bookings is sought.
IATO also sought a financial bailout package to defray the salaries of the employees and operational cost of office based on the turnover of the company in the last financial year. A 9 to 12 months deferment (without any interest) on all principal and interest payments on bank loans and doubling overdrafts bringing in liquidity allowing for business continuity.
Further, five-year tax holiday for Tour Operators who are registered under GST/Shop & establishment prior to 15th March and employers and employees contribution towards PF payments, TDS for the next one year to be subsidized by the government.
Further as and when situation eases IATO wants a free visa for all tourists for 12 months along with free entry to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) monuments for one year for all foreign tourists
According to Pronab Sarkar, president IATO, “This financial assistance is very much needed because of Government directives both by the Centre and State Government, not to lay off staff and to pay full salary to all their employees. Under the present situation of Zero business, we are not certain how long this situation shall continue and when are we going to revive our business.”