Dismay of Tourism Industry for Survival in Hour of Crisis
17th May 2020
Sh. Prahlad Singh Patel
Minister of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism
Govt. of India
1, Parliament Street
Hon’ble Minister Sir,
Sub: Dismay of Tourism Industry for Survival in Hour of Crisis.
Namaste from Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) !
With due respect, I am writing this letter on behalf of members of IATO to express our disappointment on tourism being totally ignored by our government in spite of the fact, our Hon’ble Prime Minister recognising the role of tourism in economic development and job creation of the country and mentioning tourism in all his speeches during his all foreign visits, mentioning tourism as one of 5 T’s during his first tenure, from the rampart of Red Fort and also tourism being included in the champion sectors.
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.
As you know all our members are small and medium self employed entrepreneurs and under the present crisis we represented their various issues of hard ship to the Ministry.
We were hopeful that considering the importance of Indian Tourism industry in employment generation, contribution in GDP and valuable foreign exchange earnings, demands of tourism industry will be favourably considered.
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 travellers.
We have been expressing our concerns to our Ministry of Tourism for survival for last two months. Besides writing to our own ministry, we have also approached Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Niti Aayog, PMO, directly and also through FAITH, FICCI, CII, WTTCII, expressing our problems and our suggestions for survival.
Presently entire tourism industry is stand still with no business, zero billing and no cash flow. There is uncertainty amongst the tour operators as to how and when they are going to revive their business. It is expected that the vaccination shall take about one year to come in rescue of human life that is April 2021 and by that time again our off season will start from April 2021 to September 2021 to make the period of revival to 18 months.
There is no cash inflow expected for the tour operators as we do not expect inbound, outbound will remain closed due to flight restrictions and also there being presently no control on Covid-19. Domestic travel and corporate travel within the country may slightly ease up post lockdown but will be highly restricted due to fear of travel especially 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. The meetings incentives exhibitions & events segment will be severely impacted due to size restrictions. Consequently, all tourism Service providers, the hotels, travel agents, tour operators, tourist transporters, restaurants, guides will be compromised and the tourism industry of India will be operating with extreme under capacities making most businesses unviable on a cash operating basis.
To prevent this and to ensure survival, IATO had proposed financial support, dedicated interest and collateral free long term fund for paying salaries & operating costs and for minimum 12 months complete waiver of fixed central & state statutory and banking liabilities without any penal or compounding interest which have not been addressed.
The proposed MSME fund with its many underlying reductions may have a very restrictive or limited usage.
Our members are even fighting to get their refund for the advances paid to airlines for air tickets, State Governments for luxury trains and wildlife Safaris but their refund is not being made and it seems no action has been taken by our Ministry.
The industry is really shocked due to lack of support from the government for survival.
This will result, many of our members going to be bankrupt or business closures, which will lead to job losses in all part of the country and this will be visible in few months.
We still hope, the government would consider our plight and would come out with suitable measures alleviating our pain and would help to survive during the pandemic situation.
Thanking you and with best regards,
Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister for Finance, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India
Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Finance, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog, Government of India
Mr. Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Secretary Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
Mr. Anup Wadhawan, Secretary Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India
Mrs. Meenakshi Sharma, Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism Government of India
Mrs. Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mrs. Sanyukta Samaddar, Joint Secretary, NITI Aayog, Govt. of India, New Delhi
Mr. Rakesh Kumar Verma, Joint Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mr. T. Kabilan, Director , Niti Aayog, Government of India, New Delhi -110001
Prime Minister’s Office