TAAI appeals for the revival of the industry

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We are compelled to write to you and divert your attention from more important matters prevailing in the country. Our members of travel and tourism trade at large is affected phenomenonly since over 14 months. We highlight a few points which require your immediate attention.

Travel and Tourism employs over 11% of the total work force in the country.

We generated 10% of the National GDP.

The largest in services sector contributing to USD 234 billion in 2018 and Foreign Exchange earning over USD 30 billion in 2019.

From 2015-19 there were 14.62 million additional jobs that were created.

1. Livelihood / Survival of Our Trade:

Our member entrepreneurs; travel agents and tour operators and their employees; have not even been able to do a business of more than 5% as compared to the pre-lockdown/pre-pandemic times since the last 14+ months.

Basic Survival has become a challenge. While our members tried their level best to sustain their staff for a few months, however with the global scenario undergoing the second and third wave, are compelled to reach out to you for guidance, assistance and encouragement so as to take care of the livelihood of the personnel working in the trade.

The worst hit are our junior and mid level teams, who are unable to survive ever for basic needs. They include, frontline counter staff, ticketing staff, tour planners, accountants, the airport representatives, porters, drivers, guides, sales and marketing staff, administrative team etc. The middle and senior members, including the owners are affected too.

Bad debts from clients, interest on bank loans/ overdrafts, EMI’s, increased insurance premiums for staff etc.

Further, with no respite whatsoever in statutory complainces like PF, ESIC, Professional Tax, GST, Income Tax, TDS etc. and with the introduction of the New Irrational Tax like TCS ensures that our establishments are forced to close down.

Although respite through MSME loans was given by the Hon. Finance Minister, to existing loan/overdraft holders, who had obtained them prior to February’20. However, there has been no consideration for our members who were working on their own finances, to obtain new co-lateral free loans/overdraft and rebated interest thereon. Many banks and financial institutions have blacklisted Travel and Tourism organisations being non-revenue generators since April’20. Even the existing limits, if any have been reduced.

We seek your attention in providing immediate support to all engaged in travel and tourism:

a. Moratorium for atleast 2 years from all loan EMIs for our staff and members.

b. Grant of Rs 10,000/- per month per employee for the next one year until normalcy resumes. This shall be paid back, free of interest to the Government in installments over 24 months thereafter or deducted at 15% of their salary and paid back to the exchequer.

c. Fresh co-lateral free loans/overdraft faciltities to our member organisations and personnel be provided at rebated interest for a period of atleast 5 years until things are restored back to normalcy. This shall give support to them to meet their administrative overheads and promote travel and tourism effectively. The same could be computed on last 3 years average.

d. Income Tax Holiday for next 5 years for member Travel Agents and Tour Operators.

e. Rebates on Digital payments: The Credit Card companies / Banks are charging between 2% to 3.5% for payments received through credit card or wallets. This is hindering the purpose, revenue and ease of doing business. In todays Digital India, which was initiated by your goodself, has lost its steam for people making payments to us by debit/credit cards. Further the airlines too are not accepting digital payments from us vide creditcards or wallets, due to the same reason of higher percentage of deductions by the banks. This should be brough down to 0.5%.

f. In the current scenario where many small establishments, like our members, are trying to work from home. With zero income, they have cutdown on their lease rentals. Work from Home should be considered as an establishment for registered travel agents/ tour operators, as many authroities are not permitting official addresses at residences. This should be directed through your good offices so as to safe guard health and safety.

g. May we also urge you to direct the States to consider waiver and reduction of electricity charges / water taxes / property taxes / stamp duty / commercial licence fees / other local taxes for another 3 years. This shall help and support the trade to survive.

h. Syncronisation of all employee benefits like ESIC, Professional Tax, PF, Gratutity etc. under one head so as to ease compliances and do business effectively, smoothly and motivate us to generate more revenue for the country.

Hon. Pradhan Mantri ji,

We do not seek grants as alms, but seek support in terms of repayable loans. This shall be repaid back to the Government post the 5 year period after the crisis ends. This shall only be an interim working capital for survival and revival along with ease of doing business.

2. Industry Status for Travel & Tourism along with Cabinet berth for Tourism and Culture Ministry:

Sir,

We have been working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for years. Hon. Minister Shri Prahlad Singh ji Patel is one of the most dynamic Ministers along with his team of Secretary, Shri Arvind Singh ji and Director General-Tourism Smt. Rupinder Brar ji. They have been a source of inspiration and proactive in listening to us over the last year. The Ministry has taken our feedback and suggestions on the revising of MDA guidelines, the new SoPs for opening up tourism very positively and implemented the same.

This being the largest service sector in India, we ensure that tourism to and from India is promoted to generate bi-lateral trade around the world. Incredible India has rich heritage and culture be it through arts and crafts, dance forms, music, food & cuisine, road trips, rail tours, but also has the best beaches, mountains, waterways, landscapes, deserts, temples, places of worship, nature and wildlife, medical tourism, agricultural tourism, camping, student tourism, promotion of yoga, Buddhist circuit, adventure tourism, festival tourism, spiritual tourism, sports tourism, MiCE, Weddings, Film tourism etc. Our members promote all verticals with ease and grace as our culture has embibed into us “Athithi Devo Bhava”.

Tourism-led growth hypothesis postulates that expansion of travel and tourism activities generates economic growth, resources and technology inside of the economy, additionally by expanding foreign exchange earnings in inbound. You are well aware that there is a reasonable relationship between economic growth, tourism and financial development.

The contribution from this Ministry and the Trade especially in the last 5 years, deserves a Cabinet berth in your Government. Travel & Tourism was one of your key stakeholder partners in ensuring to make India the USD 5 Trillion economy.

We have already submitted proposals to the Ministry of Tourism as well as Ministry of Civil Aviation on policies for insurance protecting our members from global airline bankruptcies, consumer protection, travel insurance, tourism fund, Special Tourism Zones, structuring it for ease of doing business.

Strategizing for setting up an efficient regulatory body along with TAAI and other stakeholders in the travel and tourism trade with MoCA and MoT like SEBI / IRDA etc. which shall not only protect the interests of the general public but also of the principals, travel agents and tour operators.

This shall also ensure that every Travel & Tourism organisations/professional registers with the Ministry though us, which shall safe guard, no fly by night operators mislead the traveller/ tourist and appropriate guidance and quality service is rendered.

Our members spend over 50% of their earning towards salaries and wages of personnel working in the trade. Education, Research, Continuous Education and upgradation of knowledge is an ongoing process to keep our clients well informed in this competitive world with technology.

We continue to endevour our drive to do business, escalating to higher standards and achievements, for which your intervention and support is being sought to provide Industry Status to Travel & Tourism in India.

This shall ensure overall economic growth, increased job oppourtunities, higher revenues, technology development in the trade.

We at TAAI assure you that, once again under your leadership, India shall re-gain its title of being “Sone ki Chidya”, within the next 5 years.

Our humble request to you is to call for an emergent meeting of the Task Force on Travel & Tourism along with us, the stakeholders under your aegis.

We at TAAI assure you that we shall strive to drive the change, to make the industry more resilient and productive, along with our full support to the Government. We shall grow to fulfil the dreams of making India a 5 Trillion Dollar Economy by 2023 ensuring travel and tourism contributes to over 15% to the national GDP by then, with your support and encouragement.