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‘Our focus is to create demand.. History proves the resilience of tourism’: Prahlad Patel

With the pandemic hitting the sector hard, the minister has been holding meetings with the industry, and passing on their feedback to government.

Written by Divya A |
August 23, 2020 4:21:59 am
India lockown, India covid lockdown, India unlock 3, Unlock 4, coronavirus pandemic, hotels open, tourism in India, India news, Indian ExpressPrahlad Patel

A day after the government allowed reopening of hotels in the Capital, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel is chairing a virtual meeting with tourism stakeholders. Later in the day, he is slated to attend a webinar on ‘Survival & Revival of Tourism Sector’. With the pandemic hitting the sector hard, the minister has been holding meetings with the industry, and passing on their feedback to government. Excerpts from an interview:

What steps is the ministry taking to revive the tourism sector?

We are continuously engaging with the industry, states, related central ministries to evolve a roadmap for revival of tourism… Our focus is to take steps that will create demand. Historical data has proven the resilience of tourism. We feel that once the economy kickstarts with the AatmaNirbhar package, demand for travel will look up. The ministry has issued operational guidelines for hotels and accommodation units regarding Covid-19 safety. As domestic tourism will be the first to start, it will drive revival of the tourism sector.

What concerns have been raised by the hotel industry?

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has sought a uniform inter-quarantine air and land border policy across all states. The MICE (Meetings, Incentives,Conferences and Exhibitions) segment is a key revenue generator for hotels. I have asked the Home Ministry to consider allowing banquet and conference facilities (in hotels) to operate at 50% capacity. Many associations had requested that Delhi hotels be unlocked as Delhi is the gateway of North India. I spoke to the Lt Governor, Home Ministry in this regard.

Is there a figure for losses so far?

In a representation in April, the Confederation of Indian Industry projected that Covid-19 would impact two-five crore jobs. In terms of revenue losses, the estimate was Rs 2.4 lakh crore. FAITH has requested financial protection for tourism companies till a resolution plan is set in motion by the RBI. It has also proposed extension of moratorium on loans.

What is the plan for places like Agra, where the hotel industry rests on one tourism site?

The decision to open places has to be taken by the state government and local administration.

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