13th July 2020

Shri Alok Gupta, IAS

Principal Secretary & Commissioner Tourism

Government of Rajasthan

& CMD, Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation


Dear Sir,

Sub: Regarding full refund of advance paid for a) Palace on Wheels
(Luxury Train) b) Wildlife Safaris in Ranthambore National Park  and
canceled due to Covid-19

Greetings from IATO !

At the outset on behalf of Executive Committee and members of Indian
Association of Tour Operators (IATO), I take this opportunity to
congratulated you on your being appointed as the Principal
Secretary/Commissioner of Tourism and CMD RTDC. We hope under your
leadership, tourism in Rajasthan will further increase.

Just to apprise you, The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) is
the National Apex Body of Tour Operators with membership of over 1600
across the country. Our membership consists of the nation’s inbound
tour operators, travel agents, hotel chains, airlines, state government
tourism departments/development corporations, press and media and other
stake holders in the tourism & hospitality industry. The Membership of
IATO controls over 90% of all inbound tourism into India. Most of our
members are promoting rail packages including marketing and selling of
Palace on Wheels Luxury Train run by RTDC in overseas markets.

Due to Covid -19 pandemic tourism industry, is in big crisis and
stakeholders in the tourism industry are facing financial crunch.
Foreign tourists could not visit India due to cancellation  of
E-Visa/Visa from different countries on different dates starting with
cancellation of e-visa/visa for Chinese nationals on 1st February 2020
followed by visa cancellations for different countries  and finally
cancellations of e-visa/visas on 13thMarch 2020 from all countries. Also
during the period of February and March, DGCA ordered suspension of
flights from/to certain countries followed by closure of all
international and domestic flights on 25th March 2020. During this
period Covid -19 was fast spreading globally due to which lot of
restrictions were made by many countries and tourist movements were
stopped. All the foreign tourist visiting India were also told to leave
the country immediately from second week of March

A huge amount has been paid by the tour operators as advance payments

a) Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation for booking of Palace on

b) Wildlife Department for booking of Wildlife Safaris at Ranthambore
National Park.

We have been constantly writing to RTDC and Wildlife Department for full
refund of the advance payments for the bookings cancelled due to
COVID-19.  We have sent numbers of emails/reminders to Chief Minister,
Rajasthan Government, Rajasthan Tourism, RTDC and Wild Life Department,
(copies attached) but there is no response at all or acknowledgement of
any of our emails.

Foreign Tour Operators/Clients are threatening our members to take them
to the court if full refund is not made to them under force majeure

It is almost unlikely, that foreign tourists who has 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. 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 Rajasthan Tourism/RTDC.

In view of the may I request you for the following:-

1.   To issue necessary directives to the concerned authorities in
Rajasthan Tourism/RTDC  to give full refund to the tour operators with
Nil cancellations charges at the earliest enable refund the same to our
foreign clients at the earliest.

2.     To intervene and help the tour operators to get refund of advance
paid for Wildlife Safaris in Rathambore National Park

Besides the above, may I also request you to apprise us on the

1.   Whether RTDC has made plans/dates have been finalized for operation
of Palace on Wheels in 2020-21 ?

2.   Are there any revised guidelines for Palace on Wheels ?

3.   Are there any SOPs made for the Palace on Wheels ?

It would not be out of place to mention here that Rajasthan is the most
tourist friendly state and all our members are aggressively promoting
Rajasthan and Palace on Wheels in overseas markets. We need to keep
image of Rajasthan high with Atithi Devo Bhava need to cooperate with
foreign counterparts/clients in this time of global crisis.  This will
help us to secure future business and continue to promote Rajasthan as
one of the most preferred tourist destination both in global and
domestic markets.
Looking forward to your urgent intervention and necessary directives in
the matters.
Thanking you and with best regards,

Pronab Sarkar
(M) 9811102111