The tourism industry is one of the most revenue churning sectors in India and it was one of the most impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are millions of people whose livelihood is connected with this industry and they have been suffering due to the crisis that emerged in the last two years.
I heard that children used to write to Jawaharlal Nehru when he was the Prime Minister. Not sure whether our present Prime Minister Modi Ji will listen to the cry of his children in tourism, struggling hard to survive.
Dear Modi Ji,
This is our last resort! To let you know that around 5.5 crores of tourism stakeholders and employees in India are struggling hard to survive. And your government is responsible for extending the suffering like unending.
As you are living in India, you know that there were not much happenings in tourism for the last 20 months and many of our bosses closed their shops even in April 2020 so that they did not have to pay salaries to their employees. I heard you saying that nobody should leave their employees. But did you hear the figures your Tourism Minister announced in the Parliament about the job losses in tourism? Millions lost jobs, Modi Ji. And your Tourism Minister added that the survey was done to analyse what could be done to sustain the professionals in tourism whether its employers or employees. But after that the Minister is silent.
Now, Modi Ji, I am sure you might have heard about a new tourism policy coming up in India which has a focus on employment. Did you ever know that tourism was one of the biggest employers in India? How can your government focus again on employment in tourism without protecting the employees during a crisis? Is it a sustainable practice?
Tourism industry was paying one of the highest rates of GST until March 2020 before nationwide lockdowns.
I wish to congratulate your government for having record GST collections even during the pandemic. Modi Ji, the tourism industry was paying one of the highest rates of GST until March 2020 before you announce nationwide lockdowns. And we are confident we will again start paying huge GST amounts immediately on starting back. But how could you discard us, in spite of being a large contributor to the exchequer and forex kitty? Your Finance Minister Aunt just said, “Teek Hai” to our baby cries in the beginning. Then brought out ECLGS loan schemes which most of us availed of to survive.
Now it’s time to start repaying those loans. Do you have a formula on how to repay these loans? Because your officers tarnished all our efforts on reviving the tourism a bit now by bringing a travel ban and mandatory quarantine etc for international travellers. All the bookings for December /January are cancelled. You yourself asked your officers to stop the resumption of International scheduled flights. For whom or what you are doing all these?
Are you afraid of Omicron or Covid at all? Should India be afraid? I heard your long speeches on man Ki Bath with my little Hindi, where you were so loud to praise our vaccines. Why should India be afraid of another variant of covid? Instead, did you check why your officers are not pacing up the vaccination even when we have huge stocks of our vaccines?
If you get time to talk to your Tourism Minister, Modi Ji, I can guarantee that he will come up with the story of Rs 250 crores allocated for loans for accredited Tour Operators and guides. The guidelines are funny that if a Tour Operator wants to get a loan of 10 Lakhs, he will have to close his ECLGS loans amounting to higher amounts. So please don’t listen to your Tourism Minister on this.
Modi Ji, you should instead listen to us, the ones who worked hard for this Nation as bringing foreign tourists to India is not an easy job. It is not because of India Tourism Offices abroad too. The Industry fraternity worked hard for years to achieve this. But we are struggling Modi Ji now to find both ends meet. And nobody is listening to our cries. Unfortunately, our trade association leaders are afraid of you and all political leaderships. I don’t know why!
They say that if we explain our hardships, Modi Ji will think that we are talking against the government. As I have no politics, I dared to write to you. And I am sure that I don’t need to be afraid of you in explaining how hard it’s for us now. If you think, our prayer is a reasonable one, please think about tourism in India.
We would have been managed if your government did not bring a sudden change in the travel protocols in India now. You also know that it was not needed because India has a strong vaccine base and herd immunity on Covid. I thought you will take a bold stand when all other Nations’ leaders became panicked and closed borders etc. We have seen you as a leader with guts. Please take time to speak to your officers on why they rushed to immature decisions on tourism restrictions. Do they have an alternative social security plan for us?
Modi Ji, I trust you that you will do something to survive and revive tourism which is the face of any Nation. Please don’t let us down.
No offence to any Ministers. I still believe that our leaders had no courage to explain things to you people.
Also Read: Are we married to Covid? Why not a divorce!
(George Scaria is the Managing Director of Keralavoyages India Pvt Ltd, a Travelife Certified Tour Operator.)
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