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FAITH bodies recommend dual task force to fast track tourism decision-making

Thursday, August 13, 2020, 10:00 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Hyderabad

FAITH (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality) and its 10 member associations in a meeting with Ministry of Tourism proposed multi-step strategies for revival of tourism. These issues were identified to enhance tourism demand while protecting tourism supply in India.

Tourism encompasses multiple ministries and happens across states. It thus requires a coordinated approach across all the ministries at the central government level and between Centre and state. FAITH Associations have proposed a dual task force strategy. An inter- ministerial task force at the central government level and an inter- state task force. These two task forces need to be empowered and need to be agile to fast track decision-making as tourism will be the last sector to revive.

To stimulate domestic tourism FAITH associations recommended dispelling consumer fear and confusion by ensuring uniform inter-quarantine air & land border policy across all states . This will provide confidence and give knowledge to bath business and leisure tourists.

FAITH 10 associations proposed incentivising two segments domestic conferences and domestic consumers to travel within India by creating structured tax breaks.

As travel bubbles have started between India and international countries, FAITH associations proposed a multi year e- visa holiday for all visa categories as and when till inbound demand to India stabilises. This needs to be complemented by publicising widely the revised 96 hour RT PCR policy for COVID testing and ensuring standardisation across all airports.

They also discussed holding the Indian Tourism Mart for international tour operators to establish confidence and showcase the incredible Indian tourism products in the first or the fourth week of November.

Marketing communication of tourism should be kick-started which should focus on positivity & safety of Indian tourism while weaving these messages around different product segments, destinations, and incredible concepts of Indian tourism.

These could be multiple series of social media ads each with different versions of Indian and international languages to help stimulate both domestic & international tourism.

Tourism demand can truly be activated if the tourism supply and value chain is healthy and doesn’t break down anywhere across travel agents, hotels, tour operators, tourist transporters or restaurants. Faith associations recommended multiple support and revival strategies for the same.

Tour operators and travel agents recognised by tourism ministry should be allowed to operate tours for adventure, religious, or education purposes which are recognised as LTC enabled agents & operators.

For the tourist hinterlands, remote last mile air connectivity must be enabled through a hub & spoke system under the Udaan policy with increased state support till private demand picks up. To ensure best practices in adventure, satellite phones and helicopter search and rescue needs to be enabled for adventure tours across the beautiful Indian adventure spots.

The meetings segment has to begin its revival process and FAITH associations said guidelines must be  considered to be revised upwards by allowing 300 indoors and upto 500 in open areas. A fine example of safe gatherings is the inauguration of the holy temple site by the honourable PM which can be showcased as a role model gatherings format. Meetings segment must now formally also include, recognise and officially support all forms social gatherings and movie shoots and virtual meetings. It is also critical for IGST to be enabled for hospitality industry which will enhance cross-state Indian meetings industry movement with companies getting gst credit while using hotels for meetings tourism in other states

FAITH Associations have requested Delhi Hotels to be unlocked as Delhi is the gateway of North India. They have also requested for all states to support hospitality by giving a statutory waiver on all fixed liabilities power costs, liquor permits, property cesses and so on. They have suggested that GST be rationalised for hotels above ?7500 to be brought down to 12% from 18% which will stimulate domestic travel.

FAITH Associations to revive restaurants also requested for the GST option with full setoff made available for restaurants and restaurant GST be delinked from hotel tariffs.

To financially protect the tourism companies, till the resolution plan is set in motion by the RBI, FAITH Associations proposed extension of the moratorium of tourism & hospitality companies. They have also requested for automatic extension of all tourist transport and tour operators  permits , liquor licenses and other extensions.

The Indian travel agents are key enablers of the travel distribution. FAITH Associations requested for an even more healthy partnership approach between Indian travel agents, IATA & Air India. Travel agents and consumers also need to insured against airline payment defaults of their advances and cancellations and mechanisms need to be put in place.

FAITH spokesperson said that the FAITH Associations are hopeful that the demand generation measures and supply protection measures for tourism will be implemented quickly to kick start Indian tourism and express their gratitude to Tourism Ministry for initiating this exercise.

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