Tourism Minister Arvind Singh said the Ministry of Tourism is in contact with both industry and the Ministry of Finance and called the measures “welcome steps”.
“The sector needs some relief in both the short and long term. The measures will take the pressure off tour operators and tour guides. The visa easing will boost travel,” he added.
But Rajeev Kohli, the joint managing director of Creative Travel, which specializes in inbound travel, said the measures are a bit like “smoke and mirrors”.
“The Treasury Secretary has honored her obligation to mention tourism, but there was little substance. For an industry that once represented such a large proportion of India’s GDP and employment, the government found Rs.300 billion to be enough to avoid 18 months of damage to fix. ” “Rs 10 lakh loans will certainly help some of the smallest players, but they won’t go far for the majority,” said Kohli.
“Nobody is hurt like us. Issuing the first five lakh tourist visas for free is a good gesture, but it will take a lot more than waiving $ 30-60 per traveler to bring foreign tourists to India. They did not say when to start issuing tourist visas, “he added.
To revive tourism, the government announced Monday working capital / personal loans with a 100% guarantee of up to Rs 10 lakh for recognized travel and tourism actors from the Ministry of Tourism (TTS per agency) and Rs 1 lakh for regional or state licensed tour guides. The government said the program will cover 904 TTS and 10,700 tourist guides at the regional level. The government has also announced that the first five tourist visas will be issued for free once visas resume. The program is valid until March 31, 2022 or until 500,000 visas are issued, whichever comes first. The financial impact for the Visa program is estimated at Rs 100 crore.
Rajiv Mehra, President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said while thanking the Finance Minister and Prime Minister for making the industry easier, he hoped that e-tourist visas would be opened soon and that the government would consider that too Granting of a one-time financial grant to all recognized tour operators in addition to the approval of the outstanding services of the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) 2019-20. SEIS benefits are granted to the tourism industry based on its foreign exchange earnings under overseas trade policy, and these funds are used for promotions, marketing and package deals to attract more overseas tourists.
Madhavan Menon, Managing Director at
said the measures bode well for the tourism industry and will help build consumer confidence in travel.
MP Bezbaruah, general secretary of the Hotel Association of India (HAI), said the finance minister’s announcement on free visas had a very strong symbolic message that the country has the confidence to welcome visitors and that tourism and hospitality are a strong pillar of the country Post-Covid is an economic recovery strategy.
“We sincerely hope that such measures will logically be followed by industry recovery measures such as liquidity support and statutory tax exemptions,” he added.
Vinutaa S, deputy vice president and sector director for corporate valuations at investment information and rating agency ICRA, said while the visa waiver program for the five lakh tourist visas would stimulate foreign tourist arrivals to some extent, the recovery of foreign tourist entry would be to India would depend primarily on Covid-19 containment and the pace of vaccine introduction.
However, some tour guides were dismayed by the tourism ministry recognized loan disbursement limit of Rs 1 lakh for tour guides and the high interest rates on such loans, saying the government is looking for an opportunity in a disaster.