The Indian tourism industry despite receiving severe blows due to the Covid-19 pandemic has not received much assistance from the government to revive. What was there in the Union Budget 2022 for the Indian tourism sector?
Long two years! Media Houses are even celebrating the anniversary. Yes, at least a few celebrate Covid.
Last week, I was assigned to draft a letter to the Finance Minister requesting survival assistance of the Tourism Industry in India. This is absolutely an easy task for anyone in the tourism industry to draft such a letter as we have all prayers since the beginning of Covid, still unheard of. Except for a few loan announcements which most of the banks refused too. Some of our industry leaders who are very loyal to the government (not for paying taxes or doing ethical business) wanted us to wait until the budget session as there is something expected for the survival of Tourism in India. Unfortunately, those guys are hiding in the cellars since yesterday.
I am normally not someone who takes anyone personally to find fault with. But the below statement of Reddy, our Hon. Tourism Minister irritated me first but later I had Aatmanirbhar thinking and left it as a penance for venturing in tourism in India.
“400 new Vande Bharat trains will be developed and manufactured in the next 3 years. With better efficiency and passenger experience will help boost tourism “
Sir, which tourism officer in your ministry dictates this statement? Did you ever check what is the priority of the tourism industry in India was dead for the last two years? Your ministry had conducted a survey on the millions of job losses in Tourism and did you bring this to the notice of the Hon. FM to do something? Now the budget is exposed as the high focus employment-generating one. Majestic ignorance or absolute hypocrisy! With all due respects Sir, the priority should have been to support the survival of the Tourism fraternity because most of the stakeholders are completely exhausted with their Atma Nirbhar efforts to survive.
One of your senior officers in the ministry made a statement last week in closing my grievance registered on Prime Minister’s Public Grievance Portal. It was so funny. It was regarding the foolish guidelines regarding the special Tourism loan for the Accredited Tour Operators in India. The guidelines don’t allow any of the Tour operators to avail of the loan but your officer stated that the guidelines were published after taking care of the interests of the stakeholders. I closed my case there because we can’t convince a person who acts like sleeping.
If India Inc. thinks that Tourism is not a part of the economy, why don’t the government pass a special rule and kill us all? Because even after two years of closures, India is not open to hassle-free tourism. Even when we know that we have a community spread already in India, still our health ministry thinks that people coming from abroad brings Covid and ask them to stay in quarantine for 7 days irrespective of their vaccination status. The entire world started realising that its time to end this Covid game and go back to normal life. And we very well know that the government has discarded
Tourism because, without Tourism revenues, India achieved new heights of GST collection. But the government forgot or is ignorant of the much higher values of Tourism like the highest employment generation and considerable forex earning. Also what about the cultural prosperity the Tourism in India brings! All this did not open the eyes of the government. Such a pity!
Many of my colleagues are no more in this world during the last two years. Few had cardiac arrests and others did the worst thing to end up living. Don’t they have families to survive? If the situation persists without an ending, won’t we lose more lives in Tourism? Did the government or tourism ministry check whether the employees were getting at least a sustenance salary during these days? How can we blame the employers for not paying when (at least the majority) are completely drained of their resources?
I am not an expert on History. But I can very well imagine that if the government ignores the importance of Tourism, we will see the decay of our cultural heritage which we boast a lot. Our next generation will never opt for a job in Hospitality as they are all watching what kind of a negative attitude the government has shown to the industry even after two years of hard suffering. Most importantly, conscious travellers will not opt for a destination that did not do a sustainable effort to maintain one of the largest employment sectors. This is like discarding the human capital which we are boasting of. Its foolishness.
It’s a prayer. Either you open up tourism in India or kill us!
(George Scaria is the Managing Director of Keralavoyages India Pvt Ltd, a Travelife Certified Tour Operator.)
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