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Schemes by the Ministry of Finance for augmenting the tourism sector in the COVID-19 pandemic fight

On 28th June 2021, financial support by the Ministry of Finance to revive tourism in the country was announced with support to many other sectors to stimulate economic growth.

Hon’ble Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman announced the relief package Rs 6,28,993 crore to support the Indian economy in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Ministry of Finance- Hon’ble Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman -
Hon’ble Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman Ministry of Finance

Scheme for Travel and Tourism Stakeholders and Registered Tourist Guides

Financial support will be provided to more than 11,000 registered Tourist Guides / Travel and Tourism Stakeholders. Under the new Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid Affected Sectors, working capital / personal loans will be provided to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart impacted due to COVID-19.

The scheme will cover 10,700 Regional Level Tourist Guide recognised by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Guides recognised by the State Governments and Travel and Tourism Stakeholders (TTS) recognized by the Ministry of Tourism. TTS’s will be eligible to get a loan up to Rs. 10 lakh each while tourist guides can avail of loans up to Rs 1 lakh each. There will be no processing charges, waiver of foreclosure/prepayment charges, and no requirement of additional collateral. Scheme to be administered by the Ministry of Tourism through NCGTC.

Free Tourist Visa to 5 Lakh Tourists

As per the announcement, once Visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh Tourists Visas will be issued free of charge. The benefit of a free-of-charge visa will be available only once per tourist during the issuance of the first 5 lakh tourist visas (free of charge visas). The scheme will be applicable till 31st March 2022 or till 5,00,000 visas are issued, whichever is earlier.

Ministry of Finance gives concurrence to release SEIS scrips on 16.06.2021

Ministry of Finance has given concurrence to release SEIS scrips on 16.06.2021.  Earlier, several Industry stakeholders had flagged appeals to the government to release SEIS Scrips for 2019-20 and DGFT had put a detailed proposal for the allocation for SEIS for exports made during 2019-20.

Taking all circumstances into account, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has given concurrence to the proposal of the Department of Commerce for the continuation of SEIS for 2019-20 with a financial allocation of Rs.2061 crores subject to the condition that the amount will be provided through Expenditure Budget following the procedure of providing a New Minor Head.

The above moves are expected to immensely help the stakeholders in the sector by providing them much required liquidity and gear up for the operations in near future. Similarly, it is also expected to provide much-needed relief to the government-approved tourist guides who have been affected by the ongoing slowdown in the sector due to the pandemic.

Rajeev Kohli Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel
Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel & Past Senior Vice President IATO and Vice-Chairman ICPB

The tourism Industry welcomed these measures announced by the Government. “The tourism focussed announcements are very welcome. This is a step in the right direction. We however do request that the sum of Rs 10 lakhs be increased. The industry has been damaged very deeply and we need greater support not only to survive but to work on recovery,” opined Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel & Past Senior Vice President IATO and Vice-Chairman ICPB.

He continued, “On the Visas, a very good gesture. but let us show the world the true spirit of Atithi Devo Bhava and make it free for all till December 2022. Today’s announcements are a positive start for sure, but more assistance is needed very quickly to help with our recovery.”

Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)
Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)

Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the apex association of tour operators in the country said “We are grateful to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Finance Minister for giving some relief to the tourism industry including 5 lakh free visas applicable till 31st March 2022, whenever visas are open, and we are grateful to the Hon’ble Tourism Minister for supporting the industry, giving relief to the affected sector including Tour Operators and registered tourist guides in tourism sector.”

IATO thanked the Government for considering loans to the tour operators and the guides but requested that the Government should also consider giving a one-time financial grant to all recognised tour operators.

Ashok Sharda, Past President, Tourist Guides Federation of India
Ashok Sharda, Past President, Tourist Guides Federation of India

Reacting to the announcement, Ashok Sharda, Past President, Tourist Guides Federation of India said, “The decision by the tourism ministry to provide some financial assistance to regional guides and exempt visa fee to first 5 lac tourist is a welcome step. Regional guides who have been unemployed for the last 15 months we’re hoping for some relief from the ministry. It may not be substantial but good to know that we have not been orphaned.”

Ekta Watts, Executive Committee member of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI)
Ekta Watts, Executive Committee member of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI)

Expressing satisfaction on this move of the Government, Ekta Watts, Executive Committee member of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) & Chairperson Women empowerment CSR activity and LEO Initiator said, “A very positive step by the Finance Ministry to announce financial support for the tourism sector under reviving tourism scheme. This surely is appreciated and the long-awaited move by the government will definitely give travel industry revitalization.”

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