Theme 2020-For Indian Tourism to thrive tomorrow, it has to survive and revive today.

Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality, the policy federation of all the national associations representing the complete tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India (ADTOI, ATOAI, FHRAI, HAI, IATO, ICPB, IHHA, ITTA, TAAI, TAFI)  announced India Tourism Vision Day on  8th October.  The Board & the Presidents of the 10 FAITH Associations held National press conference to address the theme for the year is Theme 2020-For Indian Tourism to thrive tomorrow, it has to survive and revive today.

Nakul Anand, Chairman, FAITH presided during the event to address the issues Hospitality and Travel industry is facing owing to COVID-19 pandemic.

Nakul Anand Chairman FAITH

Good morning ladies & gentlemen, members of the press, my industry colleagues and my fellow FAITH members.

On behalf of FAITH-the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality, I welcome the national media to the India Tourism Vision Day press conference. I hope all of you are healthy and keeping well.

All ten presidents of the associations that comprise FAITH are here to take you through the challenges that confront Indian tourism. Not just its future but its present.

Friends, when FAITH was launched in 2013, Indian tourism was ranked at 68th at the World Economic Forum Tourism Competitiveness study. FAITH along with the support of Ministry of tourism worked on many initiatives to better this rank. In the World Economic Forum, tourism 2019 competitiveness study, India was ranked at 34th.

 

Over the past 7 years, the FAITH Associations, their Executive Committees across the country   worked very hard with their respective state governments and with the central government to undertake countless initiatives to double the global tourism competitiveness ranking of our country. From 68 to 34 is a giant leap but we still have a long way to go. We endeavour to take it to the next level.

Our first goal is to move India into the Top 20 ranks in global tourism competitiveness in 5 years post covid and then make our place in the top 10 ranks of world tourism competitiveness ranking in the next five years.

To give you an estimate, Indian tourism is estimated to account for between 9 – 10% of Indian GDP on a direct & indirect basis. In the post covid normal as our country moves towards the stated goal of becoming a $ 5 trillion dollar economy, our vision is to have a tourism economic footprint of $ 500 bn. That would more than double the economic footprint of tourism from what it is today.

This would straight away offset major employment growth in India. Effectively our industry would be looking at more than doubling the jobs that tourism influences from around 5 crores currently to over 10 crores. Many more people in India will gain employment across the country due to the rise in tourism during that time period.

Each segment of our tourism industry is committed to this goal. The way forward will entail contribution from each FAITH association to achieving this goal.  We have a vision for each of our verticals and on the occasion of India Tourism Vision Day, my esteemed colleagues, the presidents of the 10 FAITH Associations will share the same with you shortly.

While we remain optimistic of the growth in Indian tourism and its role in serving national priorities, the question today is of the industry’s survival in the post – covid scenario. This is the worst crisis ever of a generation to hit the tourism and hospitality industry, a crisis worse than the economic depression, the world wars and 9/11. We were the first to shut down and will be the last to recover, that too depending upon the status of the vaccine.

Each vertical of our tourism industry is under deep stress – travel agents, hotels, tour operators, tourist transporters, restaurants, guides, destinations …the list is endless. The RBI risk survey, the Income tax & GST collections data, the GDP data all have repeatedly highlighted our industry’s plight.

Some months back I had outlined Survival, Revival & Thrival: the three-phased recovery of Indian Tourism. From now, till the time the vaccine is deployed we need to sustain tourism and the service talent that forms core of this industry.

How is this possible? We believe this will be best served by a tourism Covid 19 Fund set up by the Ministry of Tourism where interest free funds are given to support the employees and the operating costs of tourism companies. This should be done through a direct benefit transfer against their pan cards and GST identities.

The tourism industry has been identified as one of 26 most stressed industries by the RBI expert committee, eligible for restructuring. We thus need to ensure that an across the board moratorium is made immediately applicable for tourism enterprises till March 2022 or till complete recovery happens and there should be no interest on interest during that period. As we restart tourism from a zero base today across all our verticals, we need revival policies in terms of GST correction, export status, infrastructure status , industry status, secured refunds, SEIS, all of which will be detailed  shortly by the 10 Association Presidents of FAITH. These are the fundamental enablers of putting Indian tourism economy back on track.

Finally, we believe, like the way GST council is structured, Indian tourism needs to be structured through a constitutionally empowered legislative body -A national tourism council headed by our Honourable Prime Minister along with the presence of all chief ministers. This will enable fast track centre state-level tourism decision making and work on a One India One Tourism approach leveraging and utilising full synergies of India’s tourism potential across all our states. This will raise the decibels for going Vocal with Local.

In line with Made in India , our vision is Tourism – Made in India , to make India one of the most preferred Tourism destinations both for domestic and international tourists offering best in class tourism experiences, infrastructure & services right here in India.

We are confident that both central and state governments are fully aware and committed to our tourism potential and the benefits it reaps for the economy.

We are the next growth driver for India and like the white revolution , the green revolution and the digital revolution, the time now is for India’s tourism revolution (‘Destination Revolution’ ) – a revolution of consumption and capex driven GDP growth, forex earnings & job creation through tourism.

But for that we need to survive and revive today and now. …

As Chairman FAITH, I will be failing in my duty if I do not bring to light the gravity of the situation that confronts us. My industry colleagues will now take you through a more detailed analysis. Thank you.

 

Captain Swadesh Kumar, the President – Adventure Tour Operators Association of India

India has one of most unique natural heritage of the world. We have been rated by World Economic Forum as the 9th most competitive in natural and cultural tourism resources.

Be it our 7500 km of coastline, our Himalayan range with some of the highest peaks in the world, our portfolio of 400 + perennial, seasonal rivers backwaters, part of 14500 km of inland waterways, our  25-30%, forest cover which covers more than 0.1 million sq km of wildlife reserve being inhabited with almost 8% of world mammals, 6% of world’s bird & flora life, our world unique mangrove Sundarbans delta and 5% of the country which is covered by our million-year-old, 0.2 million sq km desert area.

We are a blessed country being only one of the 17 Megadiverse countries of the world. Each state of India has the potential to become a centre of excellence in natural and adventure tourism.

Yet, in the $ 750 bn + world adventure tourism industry which is poised to touch $ 1.5 trillion in the post covid world, India currently has a negligible share. We look forward to working closely with the central & each of state government to move towards a  vision is to get at a respectable  market share of 5-10% in the medium to long run in the world adventure tourism market which is commensurate with our natural assets.

To move towards that journey, we have to undertake a series of steps beginning today.

At the outset, we must have a sustainable and responsible development plan around each vertical of natural heritage tourism be it in Mountaineering, cruising, trekking, wildlife & reserve forests based activities,, snorkelling, whitewater rafting,  conservatories, paragliding, ballooning, desert safaris and so on. These sustainable plans must be based on carrying capacities of the destinations and framed around sustainable guidelines developed by experts of our association ATOAI & those which have also been recommended by tourism ministry.

Adventure & Natural Heritage Tourism happens in remote hinterlands. We need to have a robust hub & spoke, all-season, intermodal connectivity model across air, rail, road or water connecting such destinations across the country.

We want to become one of the top ten nations in adventure tourism ranking in the post covid world and must accordingly have to enable policy mechanisms such as search and rescue, satellite phone connectivity, x visa, global insurance recognition and more.

Most of adventure tourism activity is based on working with local population in hinterlands and rural areas and which is in the unorganized sector. Currently, all of them are unemployed with no work. We need a robust Social security mechanism effective immediately across the country on the lines of MNREGA for such tourism industry stakeholders. Some states such as HP, Kerala & Uttarakhand have started a support mechanism for such tourism stakeholders which needs to be replicated across the country.

We need a financial legislative mechanism to make adventure tourism activities bankable at priority interest rates. The adventure tourism activities are based on natural assets & competences and not on collateral assets and thus need a different financing guarantee  mechanism.

Finally, to create structured global awareness we look forward to branding Indian adventure tourism though creating a Sub brand to our Incredible India main brand

Not only India has the potential to become the world capital of both soft  adventure and hard adventure but also in the post covid era, our natural heritage-based tourism can be co- bundled with multiple tourism products of meetings & convention, heritage, education & luxury tourism.

 

PP Khanna, the president of Association of Domestic Tour Operators Association of India

In 2019, India domestic tourism, recorded 2.3 bn plus domestic tourism visits in India. India’s domestic tourism market is estimated now to be the second-largest in the world by size next to China which is estimated at double our size. However, our tourist penetration of domestic tourists per our population is low. In the pre-covid era the USA was estimated at almost 6 domestic tourism visits per citizen, China was almost 3.6 and India around 1. 7 domestic tourism visits per citizen.

This is not commensurate with the size and scope of tourism that India tourism can offer.

In the post – covid period our vision is to double India’s share of domestic tourism to almost 4 bn domestic tourism visits in 5 years post-normal and then increase it again to 8 bn domestic tourism visits in the next five years post that. This will rightfully put Indian tourism domestic tourism market as a global leader.

But today we need to address some issues in that journey.  The domestic tour operators are in bad shape as today people have just started only travelling short distances in their private vehicles . This situation is likely to continue till the time vaccine comes.

To survive, the domestic tour operators need to be supported have an operating cash subsidy to pay their salaries and operating costs. To boost fast track revival for the domestic tourism market, there needs to be an income tax exemption on travelling within India. Indian citizens can get income tax credits for up to ₹ 1.5 lakhs when spending with Gst registered domestic tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and transporters. Not only will this organise the domestic tourism industry which is highly unorganised, but this will also revive domestic demand in a systematic manner, a practice which is being followed in many countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Japan, etc.

GST on Tour operators should be 1.8% with full set-offs and not 5% which is making domestic tour operators uncompetitive. Outside of containment zones, all the states have to synchronise their border policies to enable Indians to travel freely and without confusion. For our domestic tourism to become world-class, we have to have a consistent national focus on 3 S – Safety, Sanitisation, Sensitisation.

The ideation drive by our tourism ministry to create Special Tourism Zones across states which would reflect  the unique heritage of India in integrated world-class Infrastructure is commendable and its implementation must be fast-tracked to boost tourism supply. We are confident that Indian domestic tourism will be the biggest employment generator and will boost capital expenditure for our economy and our road to that vision begins by helping our domestic tourism.

Industry surviving through this pandemic and reviving accordingly. In recognition of the same, we have discussed with tourism ministry and they will be celebrating 2021 as the year of domestic tourism.

 

 

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President   of  Federation of Hotels & Restaurants Industry of India

India has an estimated more than 70000 hotels and over 5 lakhs restaurants.  Our vision is to make India the concept hospitality and cuisine capital of the world.

India is perhaps the only country in the world where hospitality & accommodation products can be created around diverse segments of tourism be it adventure accommodation, pilgrimage accommodation, heritage accommodation, mice accomasation, forest accommodation, cruise accommodation, hills accommodation , sports accommodation student accommodation.

It is also widely believed that in India  cuisine changes every 300 sq km. That would make India perhaps the  most unique country with an estimated 1000 regional & hyper-local cuisines reflecting the diversity of India’s geography, history and culture.

To make India the global hospitality and cuisine tourism capital and create an ecosystem for entrepreneurship and  business models we need an enabling environment from state governments and the central government.

Foremost, hotels & restaurants across each state of India need to be declared and treated as an industry. Unlike commercial establishments we don’t just retail, we create and produce high quality service. Power and water utility rates must be at industrial rates effectively.

GST rates for hospitality in India are one of the highest in the world. This makes both domestic and inbound tourism in India expensive. The 18% GST category for hotels above room rates  of ₹ 7500 must be abolished and merged with the category of 12% gst.  Gradually it should be brought down further below 10% with full set-offs in line with global trends.

Restaurants too have an 18% and also 5% slab but which is without  setoffs. The 18% category needs to be abolished and there needs to be an option made available of Gst at 12% with full set-offs. Additionally, the needs to be no linkage to room tariffs above ₹ 7500 as it currently exists.

Heat light power Costs, liquor excise and also property taxes are all forms of very high-cost input indirect costs on hotels & restaurants. These need to be made available as input costs setoffs for GST to truly make us one country, one tax.

These will make our hotels & restaurants truly cost-effective and will stimulate demand.

E- Single window clearance at a national level must be enabled for hotels &restaurants through hospitality Development Promotion Board and all existing licenses, permits, permissions must be thoroughly examined for redundancies and standardised at a national level. This will bring down the cost of pre-openings and also annual costs of compliance and make us more globally competitive.

One of the key corrections which are important for revival of hospitality is attracting domestic mice tourism. However, hotels need to be able to levy IGST   to enable them to give Gst credits to Indian corporates who do Interstate events and do not take these events international. This will streamline the complete Gst chain and boost interstate corporate mice demand for hospitality.

While the above are critical for revival, currently the single most important thing is to defer all annual compliances both for central & state governments till revival happens fully,  remove fixed compliance costs of power as is been considered in some states and give a liqueur excise compensation proportionately for the time the business was lockdown as is being done in Delhi.

For revival it is also critical to permit our restaurants to utilise their open spaces which is not only covid preventive but also revives demand.

Indian consumers may be incentivised to eat out like the  UK eat out subsidy scheme the same could be done for India to bring customers back to dining in.

Today hospitality covers both conventional and also alternate accommodation such as b&b guest houses, short term rentals and so on.  It is thus critical to ensure there is level playing field in terms of compliances and entry requirements among all  sub-segments

This is the darkest moment for the worst-hit industry hospitality and restaurants and our constant dialogues make us confident that state governments and   Central government will enable a lot of these policies to revive hotels & restaurants to enable us to move towards our vision.

 

MP Bezbaruah, Secy Generel, Hotels Association of India –

Our vision is to increase the intensity of high-quality hotel accommodation in India which is currently low as compared to global tourism leaders. India has less than 0.2 million classified rooms.  This has a direct correlation to our global tourism share which is around 1%.

To enable our vision of tourism leadership and to attain our goal of enhancing quality hospitality infrastructure we need to make enabling policy changes to Hospitality which is social infrastructure and is the core of tourism.

If India targets 1 million classified quality hotel infrastructure, that would imply a mammoth capital expenditure of ₹ 25 lakh crores,  If we  assume a conservative weighted average estimate of ₹ 25 lakhs per room.

Such kind of capital can only come from the private sector and that requires a long term favourable low-interest rate regime. Hotels are projects with a long breakeven period.

Hotels thus requires to be declared as a social infrastructure sector so that long term funds are accessible at suitable interest rates to attract private capital hospitality, to create all India jobs and build quality accommodation supply.

Land banks are the most critical resource for hospitality projects. They are also the biggest CAPEX drivers. Very high quality land assets are available with public sector units and government which can be used to enhance hospitality growth. However to do that, our hospitality PPP models need to be standardised across the  country which create lease structure which enable government share to be linked to business growth and not as a fixed payouts which will drive immense hospitality capital into India.

FAR – floor to area ratio or FSI  floor space index  is a critical tool to bring down the per room cost of  hospitality. Like in the  USA, FAR policies which enabled vertical growth in mid towns and we need to create high FSI policies for hospitality standardised across the country which should be be changed to global standards for all our metroes.

 

Inbound tourists are one of the biggest sources of foreign exchange and a big component of Indian hospitality and accordingly, we need to be recognised with an export status. Tourism Taxes are not to be exported and for our vision to create respectable global leadership in tourism that enabling change must come in.

SEIS scrips help enhance our global cost competitiveness and increase our global market access and the SEIS scrip rate must be enabled at 10% for all future period and must be the effective year 2019 -20.

 

Amaresh Tiwari, Vice Chairman of India Convention Promotion Bureau

The global mice industry is estimated to be upwards of $ 800 bn and India’s share is estimated to be around 1 %. This sector has a direct correlation to the GDP. Thus In line with our GDP share of the world, our first goalpost COVID, in 5 years would be to double our mice share to 2.5% of the world and then doubling it over the medium term.

In the global international congress associations rankings, our goal will be to take India’s rank to the top 10 in the world from 28 where we are currently. We will also aim to benchmark our cities to the top global mice cities. Currently, we have 1 city in the top 100 ranks. Our goal will be having  3 Indian cities in the top 100 in 5 years post covid and 6 cities in the top 100 in the medium to long term.

So how do we go from here to there? At the outset, we need to recognise mice tourism as a distinct business segment and we need to create a sub-brand to the main brand Incredible India.

To target global congress, conventions and conferences, and social events we need to create a global MICE bidding fund with a corpus for ₹ 500 crores to enable our entrepreneurs to undertake techno-economic bids for events which have a bid cycle of 2 years plus.

We need to create city convention bureaus in each of our main cities which will work with ICPB as their hub to carry out a global bidding activity.

In the post – Covid era we also need to incentive Indian corporates to undertake domestic mice and to prevent Indian mice events from going abroad. For that, we need to offer a  200% weighted income tax expense benefit to Indian companies which are undertaking mice events in India. We need to enable IGST for our hotels which will complete the end to end GST chain and companies get Gst setoffs for companies undertaking mice events in states other than their state of registration. . Also our Gst rates are one of the highest in the world and to revive we should move immediately to a 12% Gst rate for all mice related events with full set-offs and gradually to below 10% in the medium term with full set-offs. MICE infrastructure is a highly capital-intensive long gestation business and thus we look forward to this being also declared as infrastructure sector to have long term funding access to low-interest rates. Of the Special Tourism Zones being planned by the tourism ministry, we look forward to a mega tourism zone which should be fully integrated world-class MICE city.

As the virtual mice become the order of the day, we look forward to each state recognising this and supporting virtual mice on a structured & financial basis.

Indian MICE has the unique benefit of being bundled with the natural and cultural assets of India. We acknowledge the further easing of the mice sector through Unlock 5 and look forward to demand generation measures to move towards our vision.

 

Sharat Chandra, Treasurer of Indian Tourist Transportation Association 

Tourist transportation is the backbone of domestic tourism. Globally in all countries stable and uniform policies for tourist transportation have stimulated growth. Thus our vision for Indian tourism is very simple and straightforward. We want to provide a seamless, safe and satisfying driving Experience across the lengths and breadths of India for city tourism, state tourism or national tourism. However to make that vision happen, we must address certain ground-level realities today.

As a long term solution and to truly have one country one tax, it is critical to make available all costs of tourist transport for GST set-offs. These include interstate taxes, taxes on fuel and taxes on parking, all of which exceed almost 40% of our cost of operations.

To ensure that tourist transporters are enabled to provide world-class experiences, permission must be provided to import of tourist vehicles under EPCG by tourism services exporters.

To truly ensure a seamless tourist transportation experience we need to standardise all inter-state road taxes and make them payable at a single point which will facilitate the ease of doing business.

These are important for revival,  But measures have to be taken for survival too.

 Lack of cash inflow is the most pressing issue during the COVID and thus it is most critical that refund of unutilised GST   credit lying with the government to the operators must happen which will get liquidity into the system.

It is important to have an exemption from payment of insurance premium for the tourist transport vehicles for the financial year till complete stability happens.

There needs to be Complete waiver from payment of interstate taxes on tourist transport vehicles for a period of one year till a compete resumption takes place.

Implementation of these will ensure the survival of tourist transporters and movement towards our vision of creating a seamless tourist experience.

 Gajsingh Jodhpur,  President  of Indian Heritage Hotels Associations

India was ranked globally as being the 9th best in terms of its cultural assets by the tourism global competitiveness of World Economic Forum. We are of the most unique countries in the world which has a heritage which goes back over 5000 years. As the world goes through a revival post – covid, Indian heritage which is spread out across the country will be a position to provide tourists unbeatable heritage-based hospitality experiences which can heal the world.

Today it is estimated that just about 1% of India’s heritage has actually been monetised for hospitality and a large part of it may be falling apart for lack of funds or policy focus. Be those our palaces & forts, our monuments & museums, our food, arts & crafts & our historical sites, a lot of them have the potential to become world-class tourism assets.

We need to create a special focus on Indian heritage through a heritage sub-brand which is linked to the main brand of Incredible India. In the post-covid normal, we need to have India heritage evenings in each of the top 100 cities of the world.

We need to create a heritage restoration fund and set up a corpus of at least ₹1000 crores which encourages the custodians of our heritage across the country by funding their efforts at keeping our history alive.

Heritage civic structures are extremely delicate to maintain and thus our depreciation policies, property & other municipal taxes need to be accommodative & supportive to help their owners maintain them commercially.

More so heritage hotels bring our history back to life with an enormous amount of efforts to restore and conserve them while creating unique hospitality experiences.

As it happens globally our heritage buildings restored into hotels should be made tax free as they create significant employment in hinterland  & urban employment, while bringing tourists revenue all while keep our history safe.

The government embarked on significant drive through the PPP model to Adopt a Heritage & Iconic monuments. Each of our states are treasure chests of heritage. We look forward to the goal of having at least 5 PPP adopt a heritage monument in each state each year and at least one iconic monument in each state each year. Our PPP contractual documentation for the same should be made robust enough to facilitate that which will also revive our economy through private capital infusion and will create critical jobs.

But Before that revival, we also need to survive today. Thus each state should waive off all property cesses, fixed electrical and water rates excise &SGST for the year for heritage tourism properties and wherever they have been paid they should be offered as credit.

Each state’s heritage tourism policy should become standardised and become the national heritage tourism & hospitality policy of India by taking the best examples from the states which have formulated them such as Rajasthan, MP, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra & so on.

Our hearts also go out to crores of people employed in our heritage hotels in our hinterlands who are currently unemployed or underemployed and till the time a recovery happens we look forward to receiving financial support to maintaining their employment.

For heritage tourism of India, our past will be our future and we look forward to working with all state governments and with the central government to making that happen.

Pronab Sarkar, President of Indian Association of Tour Operators

Good morning everybody! On behalf of the inbound tourism industry of India, I welcome the national press to our press conference.

In 2019, Indian inbound tourism, recorded 17.8 mn plus international travellers to India. Out of these 6.8 mn plus were Indians visiting their friends and relatives and 10.9 mn + foreign tourist arrivals.

In the pre- covid period India had a global share of 1.2% international travel. This is not commensurate with the size and scope of India can offer. In the post – covid period our vision is to double India’s share of inbound tourism to 2.5% in 5 years post normal and then double it again to 5% in the next five years post that. This will rightfully put Indian tourism in the global league where it belongs.

But that journey begins today and today the inbound tourism industry is grasping for survival. With all key source markets such as North America and West Europe in the severe grasp of covid we do not see a normal start to inbound tourism till October 2021 and that too is conditional upon the vaccine been successfully deployed. .

To survive till then, the inbound tour operators need to have an operating cash subsidy to pay salaries and operating costs as has been effectively done in the USA & the UK.

Our SEIS rate should be made effective 10%  for the next 10 years and should be payable immediately on our financial year 2019-20 gone by.  To start reviving post then, the inbound tourism which earns foreign exchange needs to be treated at par with merchandise exports and needs to be zero-rated on GST. The GST on Tour operators should be 1.8% with full set-offs which is calculated as 18% GST on a 10% margin. Currently at 5% that too without setoffs it effectively comes to 18% on a 38% margin which is penal. This has made India travel one of the most expensive globally.

In the post covid era, each of our missions abroad should be activated with tourism resources for enhancing our tourism distribution in all countries post covid.

We are confident that Indian tourism is the next global champion sector for India and the road to that vision begins by surviving and reviving today.

 

 

Jyoti Mayal, the President of Travel Agents Association of India and Vice Chairman, FAITH

The Indian tourism industry is and will undergo a massive radical change.

In the post covid era, we see Indian travel & tourism becoming one of the biggest travel opportunities globally over the medium to long term. Whether it is outbound, domestic or inbound travel or in segments of business travel, leisure travel, weddings travel, conference travel or special activities such as medical or rural tourism travel we look forward to creating multiple opportunities for our travel agents fraternity. We have been in close discussions with the tourism ministry for the same and look forward to exciting new segments emerging for our travel agents community.

 

There is immense disruption happening from online technologies and travel is the first one to be hit by it and continues to be increasingly impacted. We have to face the challenge and work with it and as such we are constantly planning  to enable our travel agents communities to partner and create combinations of online and offline models.

We are increasingly partnering with multiple country tourism boards to collaborate with the Indian travel agents fraternity and expand country opportunities for them.

All of these require a significant component of re-skilling and upskilling of travel Agents fraternity and our prime focus is that to enable them to create more opportunities in the post covid world.

A key requirement is to make Indian travel agents globally competitive. The recently introduced TCS makes Indian travel agents uncompetitive by 5 – 10% via their global counterparts. This comes on top of the Gst which makes our travel agents even more uncompetitive. We are in close discussions with the ministries and hope that it will be rolled back.

A favourable GST regime for travel agents is extremely critical as part of our vision for the future and we are in constant dialogue with aviation and finance ministries to address that. We hope to see a competitive GST regime for our travel agents being rolled out soon.

We look forward to organising the travel agents industry and protect our fraternity from fly by night operations. This is critical to rebuild trust and we are continually pursuing it. Both at the central government level and at the state governments level this is critical.

Aviation and travel agents have a symbiotic partnership. But that partnership needs to be kept healthy. While aviation has IATA to protect their financial interests, travel agents need to also be protected One of the key questions that we will also be addressing soon is how to create a structured mechanism to future secure travel agents payments.

It is also imperative to expand the number of bilateral air bubbles and allowing tourism and business traffic  while ensuring RT PCR tests and we are in constant discussions with the aviation ministry for the same.

For all of this to succeed such partnerships are critical between the travel agents industry, across the tourlsm industry value chain and with various ministries and we keenly look forward to that. This is time we have to survive and revive and continue to build trust and confidence to deal with the challenges today in the post covid era.

 

Pradip Lulla, the President of Travel Agents Fraternity of India

Times are changing, businesses models are changing and they are changing fast. With technology earlier and now because of the pandemic, the travel agents fraternity are under immense pressure. More so In such volatile business scenarios, their payments have also come under pressure.

Our primary vision for our travel agents fraternity is foremost to ensure their security and their protection while making efforts to identifying their business expansion possibilities.

No future is safe till our present is safe for our travel agents fraternity. In line with that we welcome the recent honourable apex court’s judgement get their refunds from cancellations due to the pandemic. We have worked long and hard to ensure that our agents get back our rightful refunds.

We have to now continue to build on this further collectively to ensure that we create security for our travel agents. Travel agents payments to principals are unsecured credit and we need to ensure that some form of mechanisms whether escrow or guarantee or underwriting based mechanisms are in place to ensure that travel agents money stays secure. We look forward to working with the Government on the same.

 

India is going to be one of the biggest source markets for outbound travel. We see this as the largest opportunity for our travel agents fraternity. In 2019, 27 million Indians travelled outwards. This has doubled over the past 10 years and Post Covid, we see this doubling again in to almost 50 Million travellers in less than 10 years and our goal is to enable our travel agents fraternity to provide Indian consumers the best on the class tourism experiences.

 

Another key opportunity that we plan to create is increasing the number of countries opportunity for our travel agents fraternity.  Currently, 10 countries account for almost 70% of travel outbound destinations from India and our vision is to expand the basket of countries in the post covid world to create more opportunities for travel and thus more travel booking opportunities.

The applicability of TCS on puts our travel agents business models under threat as they make us expensive to book by 5 – 10%  Even though the advance tax is settled at the end of the year during the year, it puts a liquidity concern by blocking money and will also raise the issue of reconciliation.

Our travel agents fraternity is a critical link between tourists and our principals  –  destinations, airlines, hotels , restaurants,  payment mechanisms.

Our constant vision will strengthen this ecosystem to ensure multiple experiences are available to Indian tourists brought to them by our travel agents fraternity.

Today our travel agents are under huge business stress and we keenly look forward to a mechanism to ensure they get support for survival.

 

Subhash Goyal, honorary secretary FAITH – Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality 

More than ever in the history of independent India, in the past 7 months post the pandemic, you the national press have supported the tourism, travel & hospitality industry immensely and we are extremely grateful to you for the same. Thank you also so much for agreeing to join in today.

Our voice to the policymakers across the centre and to all the state governments have been carried out for and wide by you and we thank you heartily.

We also would like to express our thanks to the PMO, the finance ministry, the commerce ministry, the MSME ministry, aviation ministry railways ministry, all honourable members of both the houses of parliaments, Niti Aayog, EG 6, Tourism, Parliamentary committee and to all state governments for listening to us patiently and most importantly to the ministry of tourism which has constantly taken forward our concerns at the all the levels of the government.

This is a highly stressed time for the government. But we are confident that our concerns will be addressed by the government and they will be able to prioritise a relief package for the Indian tourism, travel & hospitality from their limited resources.

We are thankful to the complete membership of all our 10 member associations and all the industry who have stood together in this darkest moment of tourism and are watching our press conference in thousands.