Regarding our request for full Refund of advance payment made for bookings of Wildlife Safaris in Rajasthan and cancelled due to Covid -19
18th June 2020
Shri Arindam Tomar
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Ministry of Forests
Government of Rajasthan
Aranya Bhawan, Jhalana Institutional Area
Dear Mr. Tomar,
Sub: Regarding our request for full Refund of advance payment made for bookings of Wildlife Safaris in Rajasthan and cancelled due to Covid -19
This is with reference to our last two letters dated 4th June 2020 and 17th June 2020 addressed to Hon’ble Chief Minister of Rajasthan on the above subject and the subsequent Office Order issued by you on 18th June 2020 wherein it has been ordered that for the Safari Bookings which were made between 18th March to 30th June 2020, can be used by the same tourists till 30th June 2022 and nothing is mentioned about refund.
I would like to bring to your notice the following facts:-
· As you know Indian Association of Tour Operators is the national apex body of tour operators and most of our members are doing inbound tourism business and bringing foreign tourists to India and promoting Rajasthan in a big way including Wildlife Safaris in Rajasthan. Therefore, Safari bookings made by our members are for the foreign tourists and not for domestic tourists.
· Foreign tourists could not visit India due to Covid -19 pandemic as all visas were cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. This started from 5th February 2020 with cancellation for China followed by cancellation of Visas on 2nd March 2020 for Italy, Iran, Italy Japan etc. and finally on 11th March 2020 all Visas were cancelled and international borders were sealed. Many states including Rajasthan Government issued advisory and restrictions were made on tourists movements. No sightseeing or visit to tourist places were being allowed and tourists were advised to leave immediately.
· Due to the above reasons, all bookings made for foreign tourists by our members got cancelled including cancellations of Jungle Safaris of Wildlife Parks in Rajasthan and our foreign operators/ clients are asking for refund. Now our foreign agents are threatening to take us to the court if full refund is not made to them under force majeure conditions.
· However, as per your orders advance paid for booking between 18th March 2020 to 30th June 2020 can be used for the same tourists till 30th June 2022.
· It is almost unlikely, that foreign tourists who have booked India tour, would re-book the tour as we do not know whether he/she is still healthy, he has not lost the job, or business has not been closed so far. Foreign clients presently are fighting for survival like all of us and have no intention to travel abroad in the near future. Foreign tourists will not come to India just for the Wildlife Safaris within next few years.
· Tour operators in India are also facing acute shortage of funds due to zero billing and they are not in a position to refund unless they get back the refund from Forest Department.
· It is not out of place to mention that Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh Government haves have started full refund for all such booking but could not be availed.
Therefore, your decision to adjust the previous bookings with future bookings for the same visitors is not acceptable to our members and foreign tour operators, as they need to refund the full advance received from their foreign tour operators/clients. We cannot hold the advances for future bookings.
May I therefore request the following:-
a) This is to request you to kindly consider our plea to refund the full amount without any cancellations charges to the concerned tour operators who have made the bookings.
b) Also refund should be made for the cancellations from 5th February 2020 onwards as Visas were cancelled for China followed by cancellation of Visa for other countries like Italy, Iran, Korea, Japan etc. on 2nd March 2020 for all countries on 11th March 2020.
We need to keep our country’s image high to secure future business and cooperate with foreign counterparts/clients in this time of global crisis.
Looking forward to your support and cooperation.
Thanking you and with best regards,
Copy to :-
Shri Ashok Gehlot, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur – With the request to kindly intervene and give your directives to refund the full advance paid so that we can refund the same to our Foreign Tour Operators/Clients
Shri Vishvendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Shri Kuldeep Ranka, Principal Secretary, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Mrs. Sreya Guha, Principal Secretary Tourism and Principal Secretary Forests & Environment, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Shri G.V. Reddy, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, (HOFF), Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Dr. Bhanwar Lal, Director, Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Mr. Bhim Singh, Chairman, IATO Rajasthan Chapter, C/o. Rajasthan Tours Pvt. Ltd., Jaipur