Battered tourism industry seeks relief from government to survive pandemic

NEW DELHI: The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has sought relief from the finance ministry for the battered tourism sector at the upcoming GST council meeting by lowering tax rates.
“While no sector of the economy has escaped the impact of Covid 19, among the worst hit is tourism sector, particularly the inbound one, with more than one year of complete washout and no immediate revival in sight. (Request) council to consider rationalisation or lowering of GST on various tourism related services as this will help boost the sector as and when the revival happens,” IATO said in a statement.
Tourism industry says the GST in India is over twice as high as in neighbouring countries. IATO has also requested that GST/IGST may be fully exempted on the services provided outside India, in neighbouring countries even if the package includes India tour.
“As a result of tax exemption, bookings will come to Indian Tour operators instead of such bookings going to tour operators based in neighbouring countries. This will add considerable foreign exchange for the country,” it says.
IATO president Rajiv Mehra said: “The inbound tourism has been the worst hit and if we were to get these financial relief it will help us give us some strength to bounce back… request the ministry of home affairs to start planning on opening an e-tourist visa in phases as vaccination in many source markets like USA, UK and other European Markets are almost complete. This can be done in stages and on reciprocal basis so that inbound tourism business can start which will not only revive economic activities but also will bring back jobs lost during the last 14 months.”