Amid these trials and tribulations, comes the announcement by the Finance Minister specifically targeting a section of travel and tourism stakeholders that include Tourist Guides (TGs) and Tour Operators and Travel Agents (TTS).
By Aditya Chamaria,
The travel and tourism industry accounts for 8% of the GDP and equal volume of employment; looking at the brunt this industry has been subjected to; losses have reached close to Rs.200-500 crores, over the past two years. Amid these trials and tribulations, comes the announcement by the Finance Minister specifically targeting a section of travel and tourism stakeholders that include Tourist Guides (TGs) and Tour Operators and Travel Agents (TTS). This declaration comes as recognition by the government of the challenges being faced by the sector. However, the gamut of businesses involved in the particular industry is expansive and remain disgruntled with the blow given by both waves of pandemic.
Travel and tourism industry is widely spread across a variety of segments which includes airlines, hospitality, IATA agents, ropeway, travel groups etc. A huge section of these have staggeringly low incomes since the pandemic struck. This makes the need of the hour to be increased in the quantum of support offered for tourism service providers, and it should be somewhat aligned to the size of the company, turnover and employment opportunities offered.
The issuing of 5 lakh free visas will definitely boost morale of the stakeholders and trickle down positive effects on associated businesses, only when positioning of India as a safer tourist destination gets promoted on the global front. This seems a far-fetched proposition as the nation has just come out of the second wave, and fear of the third wave is lurking behind as suggested by medical experts. The loan benefits extended are set to benefit only a section of registered Travel and tourism players, but the interest rates remain a matter of concern.
The relaxation was expected along the lines of cash payouts, or relief grants rather than loans under government guarantee. Since, already the stakeholders are burdened with overrun costs due to closure of business activities, there would only be a few interested to increase the burden on their finances by applying for a loan. One such associated segment being ropeways and cable cars employ a variety of skilled and unskilled workers on their project sites. The ropeway industry has a long withstanding demand for getting the GST charges levied on ropeways to be reduced, so that it can be brought at par with other commuting options in the travel and tourism industry. Another suggestion by the ropeway industry has been relaxation in terms of loan repayment, and hastening the process of funds disbursal for government aided projects.
Looking at the current situation of the economy and businesses, we understand that the authorities and the Finance Ministry are operating under a lot of limitations and strains. However, genuine and experienced national players who have been timely paying their taxes rightly deserve some kind of financial boost or SOPs that help them in uplift, and improve their chances to provide and sustain the employment opportunities generated and created by them for many years. This will definitely make the goal of revival in the travel and tourism industry attainable and substantial.
(The author is Managing Director, Damodar Ropeways & Infra Limited. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)