IATO, the apex inbound tourism body has written to the Prime Minister, seeking his help to overcome the unprecedented financial crisis facing the industry since March 2020, which has further been worsened by the recent postponement of international flights on account of the recent wave. It has asked for relaxation in travelling norms and financial aid to the tour operators to remain viable till the revival of the industry.
In the letter, Rajiv Mehra, President IATO has sought PM’s help on relaxation on 7 days quarantine for the fully vaccinated international travellers coming from non-high-risk countries and have uploaded a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report of the testing done within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey. Such tourists are to be screened on arrival and upon no symptoms being allowed to undertake the journey. After thermal screening is done upon arrival at the airport in India and no symptoms are found, they should be allowed to leave the airport. This will encourage some international travellers to travel to India and tour operators might have some business so important for survival.
Further, IATO urges the Government to provide financial support to small and medium tour operators to tide over this crisis. This can be done based on the turnover recorded by the operator in 2019-20 and 75% of the wages paid in the financial year 2019-20, to be given as one time grant. This one time grant would not only help stop the closure of tour operators offices but also save lakhs of jobs.
It would be pertinent to add here that of all the sectors in the Hospitality industry, inbound tourism is the worst affected and the tour operators and allied sectors have collectively lost more than 1 lakh crore rupee of revenue and consequently thousands of jobs have been lost Some substantial relief is therefore sought from the government.