The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has written to the Prime Minister for urgent relief in light of the grave impact that COVID-19 has had on the inbound tourism sector.
The letter calls for urgent release of Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) benefits for 2019-2020
The letter also states to increase scrips percentage from 7 percent to 10 percent.
Under the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20, tourism services can receive SEIS scrips benefits every year on their foreign exchange earnings during 2015-20.
The letter reads, ““However, for 2019-20, SEIS has not been announced by the government during this difficult time, whereas our members have already spent the funds for marketing, promotions to compete with our neighbouring countries, anticipating that SEIS will be given to tour operators.”
IATO further mentioned that since March 25, 2020, offices of inbound tour operators have been closed. Hence, due to zero business and billing, there is zero cash flow.
The letter added, “All our members are reeling under the financial crisis as it has become very difficult for them to manage anymore and survive without any earnings in the last 7 months. They are unable to pay salaries and support their employees now. There are heavy job losses in the tourism industry. Due to this, skilled tourism manpower who migrated from small cities to big cities are either moving back to their native place or leaving the tourism industry. They are looking for other jobs for their survival. Thus, this will be a big loss of trained manpower in the tourism industry.”
IATO further argued, “No bank loans are available for us as banks have declared tourism as a high-risk business. Therefore, we shall not be able to light the lamps at our home during Diwali. We are heading towards a dark Diwali with our families.”
Till now, IATO has already appealed to the Ministries of Tourism, Commerce, Finance, NITI Aayog in this matter.