Inbound Tour Operators who bring in foreign tourists and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country, collapsing - need urgent help to survive
20th May 2020
Sh. Prahlad Singh Patel
Minister of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism
Govt. of India
1, Parliament Street
Hon’ble Minister Sir,
Sub: Inbound Tour Operators who bring in foreign tourists and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country, collapsing - need urgent help to survive
Namaste from Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) !
1. First of all on behalf of the members of IATO, I once again appreciate and applause the steps being taken by our Government to prevent and control the Coronavirus (Covid - 19) spreading in our country. The steps taken by our government so far have proved to be very worthy in controlling the disease compared to developed countries like USA, UK, Russia, Italy, Spain, France, Germany etc. Also rate of recovery in our country is very high compared to those countries. All this could happen due to dynamic leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. As per the information, so far the situation in India is under control and not very serious compared to the damage it has done in many other countries. This all could happen with the timely preventive measures taken by our Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. May I also thank the 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.
2. I would also like to appreciate the efforts being made by our Ministry for aggressive marketing and promotion of tourism under your leadership. All this resulted, inbound tourism to India was increasing at a very high percentage and we were hoping to have record inbound tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings in financial year 2019-20. I thank you and the entire team in the ministry for all your efforts.
3. However all of sudden, Covid-19 arrived and spoiled the game and maximum brunt of this pandemic was on tourism industry. Now tourism industry which is 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 all visas were suspended and the international flights were cancelled starting with China in first week of February followed by Italy, Iran, Korea and then followed by suspension of Visa for all the countries on 13th March 2020.
4. As you know all our 1700 members are small and medium self-employed entrepreneurs. Presently business of all our members is closed with zero billing and no cash flow. Out of over 1700 members of our association, 90% of our membership consists of small tour operators and under the present financial crisis, they do not have funds to survive and pay salaries to their staff. 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.
5. Sir, if inbound tour operators disappear, the foreign tourist wouldn’t be able to visit India, those who dare will find it very expensive. Also, most foreign tourists will not be able to find their way through this maze, called India, this service our very able members provide with proper guidance and high standard of Security and Safety. Further tour operators are also playing a vital role for bringing in valuable Foreign Exchange and create multiple jobs at every nook and corner of our country. Sir, imagine what results will your offices show without inbound tour operators ? Therefore, for our survival we seek your blessings and request for the following:-
i. Financial Support for Survival:- Financial support to tour operators so that tour operators do not close down their business and continue their business with their experience staff after the Covid - 19 is controlled and tourism is back to business. If no financial support is provided, all these young tourism professionals will have no other option but to be without job and wait for the tourism to revive or to leave the tourism industry and wait for long to learn other jobs and join other industries, which will be great loss of skilled tourism professionals and service providers.
ii. Collateral Free/Interest Free Loans for revival:- Special collateral free and interest free long term loans (5-10 years) to be provided to the tour operators for revival of business and aggressive marketing once tourism is back to business.
We sincerely hope that our prayer for financial support for survival and interest free loans for revival for the tour operators will be favourably considered by your good-self to help the tour operators to remain in business and keep their highly skilled and trained employees with them.
All of us would sincerely appreciate your efforts in getting the above relief from the Ministry of Finance for the tour operators.
Thanking you and with best regards,
Copy to :-
Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister for Finance, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, New Delhi
Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog, Government of India, New Delhi