COVID-19: Telangana tourism industry asks govt help for revival

Hyderabad: A delegation of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) today met Telangana minister of tourism culture V. Srinivas Goud and submitted a representation, urging him to revive the ‘package tour’ and travel industry. The team asked him to ‘bail’ out the tourism industry from the ‘crisis’, inflicted by the ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the delegation which met Srinivas Goud also also included members of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (Telangana and AP chapters), represented by chairman Ranga Reddy and the Tour Operators Association of Telangana, represented by president Siraj Ansari. The team was led by Nagesh Pampati, chairman of the Telangana and AP chapters of TAAI.

“While all sector across the world are talking about ‘revival’, travel and tourism industry is worrying about survival. That is why we have come to present representation to the Ministry to bail us out from this crisis,” said a press release from TAAI on Thursday. TAAI is India’s largest and oldest travel and tourism association, which has been active from the last 70 years.
The delegation told tourism minister Srinivas Goud that the state of Telangana should encourage “neighbour tourism”, if long distance tourism is not possible. “Also we want rural and village tourism too to be promoted,” said Nagesh Pampati. The representatives urged the minister and sought his support to advise banks to offer the tours
and travel industry interest free loans upto Rs. 25 lakhs, that can be repaid in the next 3 financial years.

“If an amount of above Rs 25. lakhs is sought, banks can charge a nominal interest rate they said. We need Roti, Kapda,and Makan. Three things essential for living. But, now we also need bandwidth and pleasure and recreation in present circumstances. And neighbourhood tourism and travel can offer this,” Nagesh Pampati added.

He also praised Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for choosing the historical monument Golconda Fort over the Parade Ground for Independence Day celebrations soon after coming into power. “This has sent a strong message that he was committed for the development of Tourism in the state. It has also boosted the tourism industry. Telangana has more tourism attractions such as Laknavaram and waterfalls like Bogatha etc,” he added.. 

The TAAI delegation also requested the Srinivas Goud to consider waiver of property taxes for 2021-2022, for the
offices they currently occupy. The representatives said that the current taxes are a huge burden on them, and they also sought the minister’s intervention in vaccinating the entire tourism and travel industry on priority basis. They requested the state government to allot a few urban Primary Health Centers with slots dedicated for them.
According to the delegation, the tourism industry wants support their employees by paying Rs 5000 a month till March 2022. Though the industry witnessed huge losses, it has not retrenched staff because of the appeal made by K. Chandrasekhar Rao last year not to sack or remove employees. Further they also wanted the Aarogyasri scheme to be extended to employees of the tourism department

Other demands of the TAAi and other bodies include facilitating soft loans of Rs. 2 lakh to the staff per person, in order to fulfill their urgent needs. They also sought fee waivers in schools and colleges for the staff working in the tours and travel Industry, as they are unable to pay fees for their children, the representatives added. Srinivas Goud a patient listening to their appeals and assured them that the issues would be looked into, said a press release.

The minister reportedly told the delegation that he would convene a meeting this week with them and officials to familiarize them with their problems and explore various options possible to help industry bounce back, the release added. As of now, travel in the state and country is severely restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has forced the Telangana to impose a lockdown, which has severely affected the travel and tourism sectors.