The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) expressed its gratitude to the Hon. Prime Minister and Hon. Finance Minister for giving some relief to the tourism industry including 5 lakh free visas applicable until March 31, 2022, whenever visas are open.
- IATO President Mr. Rajiv Mehra acknowledged the support of the Hon. Tourism Minister during this critical time.
- Remarks were also made by the Hon. Finance Minister at a press conference held this afternoon, June 28, 2021.
- The relief provided to the damaged tourism sector which includes of course tour operators and registered tourist guides.
Mr. Mehra mentioned that he is hopeful the e-Tourist Visa will open soon and has appealed to the Hon. Prime Minister that all visas for a duration of 30 days should be free for all those who apply for a visa until March 31, 2023.
Mr. Mehra also thanked the government for considering loans to tour operators and tourist guides but requested that the government should also consider giving one-time financial grants to all recognized tour operators which could be 50 percent of the wages paid by the tour operators in 2019-20 and Rs. 2.5 lakh (US$298,163) to each tourist guide recognized by the Ministry of Tourism/State Government as a one-time grant.
Mr. Mehra is hopeful that with the release of the SEIS 2019-20 (Service Exports from India Scheme) for tour operators earning foreign exchange in services sector, which is pending governmental announcement, the percentage may be considered at least 10 percent of the foreign exchange earnings so that it can give some support to the tour operators for them to survive and revive their business during this stressed situation and for its members to not end up like so many COVID-19 victims and instead get some oxygen into their businesses and not end up on ventilators.
The India travel and tourism industry also needs continued support from the government to revive and stay strong in the future. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICC)I has recommended that India tourism must be included in the concurrent list of the Constitution so that both the Centre and the states can frame tourism policies for the growth of tourism. To revive domestic tourism, the government should provide tax rebate of up to rupees 1.5 lakhs for spending on Domestic holidays in the lines of the Leave Travel Allowance (LTA).
Today in India, for the period from January 3, 2020, to 4:47 pm CEST, June 28, 2021, there have been 30,279,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 396,730 deaths, as reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). As of June 19, 2021, a total of 276,255,304 vaccine doses have been administered.