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India Tour Operators Lay Out Plan for Tourism Revival

image courtesy of IATO

As per directives from the Hon. Prime Minister of India, Hon. Narendra Modi, a 2-member delegation from the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) comprised of Mr. Rajiv Mehra, President, and Mr. Ravi Gosai, Vice President, met with the Hon. Tourism Minister, Shri G. Kishan Reddy, yesterday in his office in the presence of Mrs. Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and raised all their concerns for the revival of inbound tourism to the country. 

Mr. Rajiv Mehra said, “We were given a very patient hearing, and Hon. Tourism Minister assured to look into all our concerns including the issues related with the other ministries but are related to [the] tourism sector like MHA, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Railways, and Ministry of Culture.”

The issues which Mr. Rajiv Mehra and Mr. Gosain raised for revival of inbound tourism to India were:

•         Marketing and promotions, participation in major international travel marts/fairs, road shows, fam trips for foreign tour operators, and overseas marketing and promotions through electronic and print media.

•         An official of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, should be deputed in 20 missions where tourism officers have been appointed and those countries where there were India tourism offices earlier and have since been closed. Senior officers to be appointed in 7 India tourism offices which are operational. 

•         MDA Scheme should be re-instated and made operational.

•         Guidelines regarding incentives to tour operators under the Champion Services Sector Scheme for enhancing tourist arrivals to India should be revised.

•         Draft National Tourism Policy in its true spirit, where the Ministry should constitute an inter-ministerial committee of all the related ministries headed by the Secretary (Tourism) should be implemented.

•         Substantial funds should be allocated to the Ministry of Tourism.

•         Airfares should be reduced by reducing taxes on ATF by the center and the state governments.

•         Rationalization of GST on tourism should take place.

•         Benefit of the SEIS scheme should be continued for tour operators for the next 5 years under a new Foreign Trade Policy, The admissible rate of SEIS may be hiked from 5% to 10%. If the government decides to discontinue this, any other alternative scheme should be introduced for giving incentives to tour operators in place of SEIS.  

•         Tax Refund for Tourists (TRT) Scheme should be implemented.

•         E-Tourist Visa for international travelers from such countries as the UK, Canada, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, etc. should be restored.

•         Validity of 5 lakh free tourist visa should be extended until March 2024.

Besides the above, a few other issues were also raised with the Hon. Tourism Minister. Earlier, IATO had written to the Hon. Prime Minister raising all of its concern to help inbound tour operators to revive inbound tourism business to India.

IATO is hopeful all their issues will be resolved soon and inbound tourism to India will be revived with the help of the Ministry of Tourism and other concerned ministries. The tour operators thanked the Hon. Prime Minister for his intervention.

About the author

Anil Mathur - eTN India

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