Industry body IATO on Monday urged the government to provide immediate relief to the tourism sector, which has been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the tour operators have been forced to lay off their staff, many have sent staff on furlough and those who are remaining are getting less than 30 per cent salary, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said in a statement.
In light of this, IATO has sought various relief measures from the government. This includes a one-time financial grant of the gross salaries amount paid to the staff of tour operators on the basis of the balance sheet of the fiscal year 2018-19 which is submitted with the government authorities, IATO said. The industry body has also requested, “the government to raise duty drawback under the SEIS (Service Export India Scheme) from 7 per cent to 10 per cent. Such a measure would go a long way in alleviating the liquidity problem as the sector currently has zero billing and this would help tour operators to survive,” it added.
It has also sought amendment in rules regarding the granting of loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as presently only those who have established relationships with banks are being offered loans, IATO said. The tourism industry is in dire straits and needs urgent relief from the government. The measures we have sought do not involve huge outgo from the government but if these reliefs can be given now, these can go a long way in providing succor to the stressed sector failing which many tour operators would shut down,” IATO President Pronab Sarkar said.