Exemption of GST, deferment of advance tax payment, and constitution of a task force among others to address concerns of the tourism industry which is facing a grave crisis in the wake of coronavirus scare were demanded by the industry in a meeting with the Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel here.
While the tourism industry appreciates the government’s efforts in sealing the international borders to keep the country safe from spreading of coronavirus (COVID 19), the delegation comprising various tour and travel organisations expressed concerns over its impact on the sector to the Tourism and Culture Minister.
The cancellation of visas has put the industry at a complete standstill and millions of dollars worth of losses are expected both in inbound and outbound tourism during the next few months.
While apprising the minister with the prevailing situation arising out of coronavirus scare, the delegation maintained that it would increase unemployment in the country and tour and travel operators and airlines will be reluctantly forced to cut down on staff, resulting in huge unemployment in the country.
In order to save the industry from disaster, it was suggested that every state government should be sensitized that they should screen visitors, but in the process not to create panic. They demanded that GST and other direct and indirect taxes should be exempted from the aviation and tourism industry for at least one year.
“We should send a message to the world that a holiday in India is tax-free” said Subhash Goyal of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) who was heading the delegation on Friday. Patel met the delegation along-with senior Tourism Ministry officials.
The delegation further demanded that payment of advance tax should be deferred for at least six months, if not a year while the RBI interest rate for the travel and tourism industry should be reduced by at least 3 per cent.
Representatives from the industry sought the creation of a national task force consisting of the Ministry of Health, Finance, Home, Civil Aviation and External Affairs with the representatives of the travel and tourism industry to tackle the crisis.
The task force should convene a meeting as early as possible to take up the issue on a priority to save the industry, Goyal said.
The delegation also sought a meeting with the Prime Minister should be organized. A review meeting of the Task Force should be held within the next 1O-1S days to reinstate the Visas and open at least four International airports in North, South, East, and West so that proper screening can be done.
The Indian Tourist Transporters Association, which was part of the delegation mentioned that if there are no tourists, how they will pay the EMI of their banks and the salaries of the drivers and their staff. Tourism Minister said that he has already written to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Among others, the delegation sought a six to nine months’ moratorium on all principal and interest payments on loans and overdrafts.
Removal of fees for any upcoming licenses/permits renewal/ Excise exemption for liquor for the hospitality and travel industry across the states were also demanded.
Usage of the MNREGA funds to support salaries of employees in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry till the time revival happens was also demanded.
The industry wants fast track all GST refunds for the industry’s wherever they are getting stuck and automatic increase in working capital limits by 50%.
Tourism Minister assured the members that decision has been taken in the larger national interest and he assured everyone to request concerned ministries to review the decision within the next 15 days.