A revival plan for the industry

Trade associations share their recommendations to various ministries, urging them to take necessary steps to revive the tourism industry. Relief on both GST and Income Tax as well as suspension of licence renewal fee have been suggested.

Meenakshi Sharma, DG, Ministry of Tourism
As an industry, we should start formalising plans for revival once the situation stabilises and is under control. Tourism stakeholders have made several suggestions on measures that could be taken to keep the confidence of the industry, consumers and stakeholders, which will be considered for taking up with the concerned authorities. We look forward to everyone’s support and assure you of ours in overcoming the situation. The COVID-19 outbreak has affected business and people across the world, and we are doing our best to help our industry.

Rajiv Mehra, Vice President, IATO
Our demand is not loan waiver, just a delay on payments as our cash flow will now go down to zero for inbound and substantially decrease for domestic and other segments. If we do not get this support, the tourism industry in the next 45-90 days will find itself unable to pay back loans and the banks will be flooded with NPAs. We will also probably see bankruptcies emerge among many of us. Interest-free or low interest loans for the tourism sector for rebuilding business and immediate transmission to the industry on term loans and working capital loans will also help revive the industry, as will fast-tracking of all GST refunds.

Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI
The travel industry is the worst hit. In a bid to help the industry revive, we have demanded a number of steps from the government. The first and foremost is to roll back the TCS. Another ‘tax’ing issue is GST and the way forward would be to suspend it for a year. The industry will also benefit from zero income tax complemented with some rebate for a year. Travel companies should also be offered interest-free loans or loans with a lower rate of interest for working capital. Reducing airport taxes to bring cost of air tickets down will also help the industry.

JK Mohanty, Chairman, HRAO
Most hotel owners have taken loans and in current circumstances, it seems difficult for us to pay interest and bank EMIs. Banks should be advised by the state government to consider the situation and defer EMIs and interest till normality is restored. SGST should be waived off till the situation becomes normal. The state government should also try and convince the Central government for a similar step. We also need a fee waiver for any upcoming licences/permits renewal (such as BMC Holding Tax, Bar Licence Fee, Electricity Fee, etc).

Pradip Lulla, Acting President and VP, TAFI
We have appealed to both the Ministry of Tourism as well as Ministry of Civil Aviation to recommend to the government certain abatement like a moratorium of six months on the interest payments on loan and EMI, GST waiver for one year, suspension on incoming TCS from April 1, reduction on interest on loans for SMEs as well as subsidies in form of direct payment from the government for half of our salary bills for six months. The above implementations would provide succour to our ravaged businesses and support our survival.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, VP, FHRAI
Hospitality industry is one of the biggest employment generators. Other countries, while announcing closures, have immediately offered sops for the industry. Brussels has given a sop of 4,000 euros per establishment until March 31. We expect our government to offer something similar. We have sent them recommendations like GST and other tax holidays, and push back on EMIs and principal payments on loans by six months. The impact is heavy on our industry and by doing this, the working capital generated will keep businesses alive.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC
WTTC is calling upon governments of all countries to take immediate action to help ensure the survival of this critical job-creating sector. We propose three vital measures. Firstly, financial help must be granted to protect the incomes of the millions of workers in the sector facing severe economic difficulties. Secondly, governments must extend vital, unlimited interest-free loans to global travel and tourism companies, as well as the millions of small and medium-sized businesses. Thirdly, all taxes, dues and financial demands on the travel sector need to be waived with immediate effect.

Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI
Tourism will be the last to revive. Our own revival plan would depend on the same and we will have to find ways to protect the smaller agents who don’t have business and money to pay for anything. There is no money since we don’t have any refunds, and payments must be done. We need to work collectively to safeguard the money and jobs in the industry. We have requested the trade that they should try and not ask people to leave their companies. With the financial year being pushed till June, I think all the new things would move.

Nakul Anand, Chairman, FAITH
FAITH has sought PM Modi’s intervention. We have asked for 12 months’ moratorium on EMIs of principle and interest payments on loans and working capital from financial institutions. We also need to double working capital limits and on interest-free and collateral-free terms. This will prevent all our tourism businesses from going bankrupt. We also request a 200% weighted exemption for 12 months on expenses to Indian corporates to hold exhibitions and conferences in India.

Naveen Kundu, MD, EbixCash Travel & Holidays
I think, the first and foremost thing the government should do is to save jobs. Right now is not the time when somebody who loses a job can apply in another company or firm. There is a huge cash flow and liquidity crisis in the industry right now. For the next six months, there should be no tax burden of the past one year, no advance tax should be needed. The government should think of a fiscal benefit to the tune of 40-50 per cent of the turnover of the company so that employees start taking salaries.

PP Khanna, President, ADTOI
A multi-association task force has put together a document for the government, in which they have requested to rapidly deploy a ‘Survival & Revival’ financial package to Indian hotels and resorts, travel agents and tour operators, as well as tourist transporters on four different parameters — term loans from financial institutions; working capital from financial institutions; and advisory to other stakeholders.

Inputs by Hazel Jain, Nisha Verma and Manas Dwivedi

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