Tourism Industry supports extension of the lockdown

India’s Travel & Tourism Industry has endorsed the extention of the nation-wide lockdown till May 3. The extension was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Originally the lockdown was for 21 days and was to end on 14th April. While supporting the extension, the industry is also seeking specific relief for the travel & hospitality sector, as further extension of the lockdown has made the revival more difficult.

Supporting the extension, Dr. Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group, says, “I applaud our Prime Minister’s decision to extend the lock down as I firmly believe that life is more important than livelihood. Only when the infections are curtailed totally, would the travelers and hotel guests would feel confident enough to start travelling again and in availing hospitality services.”

Industry bodies like Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has also supported the extension, however, FHRAI also noted that with every necessary extension, reviving the industry will get that much more difficult, especially without any announcements for specific relief.

“We support the Hon’ble. PM’s decision to extend the lockdown until May 3rd and stand by it as we understand that, the country’s first priority is containing the spread of the virus any further,'” said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI.

However, he added, “We must also keep in mind that with every necessary extension, reviving the industry will get that much more difficult, especially without any announcements for specific relief. The Hospitality and Tourism sector accounts for 12.75 per cent of employment, 5.56 %of it is direct and 7.19% indirect. As we speak, the Indian Hospitality and Tourism industry is staring at a potential job loss of around 38 million, which is 70 % of the total workforce, due to COVID-19 . The hospitality industry has been the worst hit and a lot of damage is already done, businesses have come to a standstill and revenues have already hit rock bottom. With this new extension, besides the revenues of both the industry and the Govt., employment too will get jeopardised. According to the WTTC, as many as 75 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk worldwide, one in eight of them in India. It would be a long time for guests to trickle in, as confidence is at an all-time low. Now only timely Government intervention can give us a new lease of life. I would reiterate that as an industry, our hotels and restaurants are at the helm, assisting the authorities with the required rooms for doctors and healthcare workers and food for various sections so that no one goes unfed. I also appeal to the Hon’ble PM to kindly review the order on full wages to be paid to all workers during the lockdown as without revenue, it becomes impossible to maintain full salaries of workers. We assure the PM that as far as possible we will ensure no worker is retrenched. I also reiterate that without Govt. intervention now, the industry may well be heading towards a collapse which will be extremely difficult to revive. We stand United with the Govt. for eradicating the virus and together we will show the way to the world in achieving this.”

In a representation submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office, FHRAI has outlined the challenges posed by the crises, its impact to the industry and the support hoped from the Government.

The submission includes pleading for: 

– All statutory liabilities be deferred for a minimum period of 6-12 months, including repayment of loans, interest and bank EMIs

– Reduction of bank interest rate by almost 200 basis points with immediate full transmission for working capital

– Complete GST holiday for 6 months

– Lease, rentals, property taxes and licenses such as Excise fees be suspended until the end of the pandemic

– Utility costs like electricity and water to be charged on actuals along with waiver of duties for 6 months

– Post COVID – 19, revival soft loans to be made available to re-start hotels and restaurants

– Employment to be subsidized by at least 3 months through Govt. contribution through the ESIC reserves.

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