Indian Tourism Industry on the brink of collapse , seeks central help

Ankur Bhattacharya ; Kolkata , 27 April : Indian tourism Industry, one of the largest in the world with an annual business turnover of over Rs 5 lakh crores till last year, is likely to suffer a massive financial loss of around 50 per cent this year when many of its 3.8 crore workforce might also face a job cut because of the Corona epidemic which has brought the entire economy of the country to its knees.

Expressing serious concern at this unprecedented situation in over a century, the Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism and Hospitality industries, representing the entire tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India, in an appeal to the Prime minister, Union Finance minister, Tourism minister, Civil Aviation minister, the Niti Ayog and the Reserve Bank of India has sought a comprehensive economic stimulous package from the union government to bail them out from the current crisis.

Also apprehending a massive job loss as Covid -19 has brought the tourism industry to a stad still, a spokesman of the Federation told here recently over telephone that as a result of the current crisis as many as 53,000 travel agents, 1,15,000 Tour Operators including those foreig n bound, domestic and outbound tours along with 15,000 Adventure, 2700 MICE, 19,11,000 Tourist Transporters, 53,000 hospitality and 5 lakh restaurants had now been facing the heat due to lack of cash flows. Covid – 19 has jeopardise the future of this massisve industry, he felt.

Stating that in 2018-19 they handled business of over 10.5 million foreign tourists, besides more than 5 million visiting NRIs, 1.8 billion domestic tourist visits and over 26 million outbound travellers. the spokesman said but now the industry was facing its biggest economic challenges with the larger and combined effect of 9/11,the slowdown of 2009 and estimated bigger effect even larger than the Economic Depression and World War II.
Moreover, all cash inflows of the industry had completely frozen and were likely to stay that way for the financial year 2020-21, he said.

‘Under these circumstances we now recommend a complete deferment for twelve months of all statutory dues payable by tourism, travel and hospitality industry to the Union,State Governments and even at municipal level without attracting any penal interest. These would include GST, Advance Tax payments, PF, ESI, customs duties, excise fees, fixed power and water charges and any fees for licensesand renewal at the state level ‘, the spokesman isaid.

In addition to a support fund in the name of ‘Tourism COVID-19 Relief fund’ should now be set up by RBI or the Finance Ministry of Finance to support salaries and establishment costs., he stated further adding it should be in the form of an interest free loan to Tourism companies for repayment of the principle over 10 years. The industry estimates the value of the fund to be minimum of Rs.50,000 crore which is almost equal to gross banking credit to the Indian Tourism industry.

RBI has already provided for three months moratorium on EMIs of principal and interest payments on loans and recalculation of working capital from Financial Institutions and this needs to be without any accrued and accumulated interest during this period and it needs to be extended for twelve months, the spokesman stated further about the proposed bail out package.