“We had expected that the Government undertakes our suggestions for more direct relief for our member stakeholders, so as to support and encourage overall stakeholder, rather than limiting to 904 Travel and Tourism Stakeholders (TTS) registered with MoT,” was the reaction released in a statement by the Travel Agents Association of India(TAAI).
The statement was a response by TAAI, the premier, nodal, and largest Travel and Tourism Association in India to the Union Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman announcing a Relief package to boost the Indian Economy in the fight against Covid-19 for Travel and Tourism Stakeholders on 28th June 2021,
TAAI has been recommending to its members to register with MoT over the years but the process is tedious and requires a lot of documentation, which discourages ease of doing business.
Jyoti Mayal, President TAAI, stated, “We expected much more than what was announced. However, we believe the relief has focused more on domestic and inbound travel and only those registered with the Ministry of Tourism (904). It is pertinent to note that with over 3000 members of TAAI alone, only those registered with MoT shall benefit. Our members have applied for MoT recognition and due to the pandemic over 200 have still not been approved. Most of the members engaged in Domestic tourism are registered with State Tourisms, with specific concentration to their regions. The outreach of this relief is minuscule.”
Adding to that, Vice President, Jay Bhatia stated, “Appreciating that finally the Government recognized our trade activities, but the impact of this relief shall not be overall. Less than 10% of the actual stakeholders only shall benefit as per the FMs package.”
He added, ” To widen the scope of this relief, the Hon. FM must include those registered under MSME. We urge the Government, that all TTS registered under GST and who have already been contributing to the exchequer over the years, should be recipients of this relief package.”
In a TAAI communication dated 24th May 2021, the Association had appealed to the Government to ensure employee benefits like PF, Gratuity, Professional Tax, ESIC, etc are synchronised, so as to do business effectively and smoothly, which shall motivate member agencies to generate more revenue for the country.
Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon. Secretary-General, TAAI pointed out, “Many of the member agencies are involved in Airline ticketing and Outbound activity apart from servicing domestic and inbound travel and tourism. This being the largest service sector in India, generating over 9% of the National GDP and employing over 10% of the workforce. We ensure that travel and tourism to and from India are promoted to generate bi-lateral trade around the world.”
Hon. National Treasurer, Shreeram Patel, stated, “TAAI had appealed to the Government to grant Income Tax Holiday for our employees as well as member agencies for the next 5 years. Further, a moratorium for all our employees and members for 2 years on all their EMI’s / interest was requested.”
TAAI highlighted the fact that although the Hon. Finance Minister has granted Free One Month Tourist Visas until 31st March 2022 or 5 Lakh visitors, this shall only be feasible and a win-win, if GST is waived for international tourist and interstate GST credit be permitted for stakeholders, that too when flights commence and the country welcomes international tourist to India.
“Our infrastructure, safety, and hygiene to handle international tourists due to covid-19 are still not at par with global standards. We await more clarity and acceptance of our proposals from the Finance Ministry and Ministry of Tourism, ” said TAAI in a forthright declaration.
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