IATO backs digital payments

In the wake of demonetisation, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has called for guidelines for ASI to accept credit and debit cards or online payments.

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Pronab Sarkar, President, IATO, claimed that the Ministry of Tourism has taken into consideration most of its suggestions regarding ASI monument fee right from the day the transaction with 500 and 1000 currency notes was banned. “Owing to demonetisation, our members are facing problems and we have taken up the issues with MOT and they have taken up this matter with the culture ministry. We want that culture ministry should issue proper guidelines to ASI monuments for accepting credit and debit cards, and also activate online transaction,” he said. Citing the example of Agra, Sarkar said, “A total of nine monuments are not online, including Fatehpur Sikri and Red Fort in Agra, which should be online, allowing tour operators to buy tickets online. We have also requested that our members should be able to buy ASI monument tickets in advance by paying through cheques, demand drafts, NEFT or RTGS and the entry of tourists should not be restricted. Since the Secretary, Tourism, has written to Secretary, Culture, we are now hoping that there will be a positive response coming our way.”

Lally Matthews, Hony. Secretary, IATO, added, “We have written to the ministry and the ASI to allow POS machines to be installed at the monuments, so that it becomes easy for the tourists as well tour operators to buy tickets.” In fact, one of IATO’s demands to buy tickets in bulk has now been accepted by the Ministry of Tourism.

Sarkar revealed that they also had other issues of their members. “We also met Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh (AP), and expressed our difficulties in handling tours in the state, especially with high road taxes for tourist vehicles. We requested for some discounts so that more people can travel between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Plus, there should be extra facilities for foreign tourists to visit Tirupati.”

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