IATO, ATOAI and ADTOI recently met Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, to seek government’s support for the survival and revival of industry, including financial assistance for tour operators. Here is what ensued…
The agenda of the recent meet with the NITI Aayog chief was to seek financial support along with long-term loans and a hike in SEIS incentive from 7 per cent to 10 per cent. The latter gave a patient hearing and has assured full support. During the meeting, Pronab Sarkar, President, IATO, emphasised that inbound tour operators who bring in foreign tourists and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country are on the verge of collapsing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need urgent help to survive as there is zero billing and consequently zero cash flow.
“IATO has been raising concerns of members through all possible means and platforms and has been writing to all the concerned ministries directly and through Ministry of Tourism and also to PMO. We also approached the Chief Ministers of many state governments for relief to the tour operators at state level. We suggested that financial relief and non-collateral interest-free long-term loans should be given to all 1043 Ministry of Tourism, Government of India recognised inbound, domestic, adventure tour operators, travel agents and tourist transport operators, in the form of one-time financial grant of 75-80 per cent of the gross salaries amount paid to the staff in financial year 2018-19,” said Sarkar. Apart from Sarkar, Rajiv Mehra, VP, was representing IATO. Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, ATOAI and PP Khanna, President, ADTOI, were also present.
The delegation sought financial support to tour operators so they did not have to shut shop.
In addition, IATO sought an increase in incentives offered under SEIS from 7 per cent to 10 per cent, which would allow them to offer competitive packages vis-à-vis neighbouring countries. Kant assured the delegation of full support to the tourism industry. IATO and other tourism bodies sincerely hope and believe that the government would soon provide measures to mitigate the pain of the tourism industry.