Vinod Zutshi, former Secretary to the Government who served as Secretary Tourism for the Government of Rajasthan as well Secretary Tourism to Government of India has said that the tourism industry should not feel disheartened nor lose patience as the stimulus package announced by the government didn’t spell out anything specific for the sector.
The government incentives can come in different steps and shapes. These do not start or end with the stimulus package, he said. “How can you presume that the stimulus package was the end of everything?” Zutshi asked. In a interaction with ET (TW) (*interview source), the former bureaucrat said from his experience that the government has constituted a national Tourism Task Force with the Tourism Minister of the Country as the Chairman and with tourism ministers of all states and representatives of the trade associations and industry apex bodies as members. He said that the purpose of that body is to handhold the industry.
He said that he is not sure whether the Tourism Task Force has met and discussed the issues of the sector in detail and given a final verdict. “Now the states are preoccupied with other issues related to health and well-being of the people. So I think the tourism industry should better wait and watch till the national tourism task force meets and comes out with a final verdict,” Zutshi said. The role of the task force does not end with the stimulus, he added.
Zutshi said that it is not prudent to expect everything to come in a monetary format from the government. Support can also be fiscal in nature. He also said that lot of reliefs can also come from the States in the form of reduction in electricity tariffs, licence fees of different nature, etc. for the sector. At the same time, the tourism industry should not lose sight of the various incentives that the government has announced for the MSME sector. The government has also changed the scale and definition of the MSME. Bulk of the travel and tourism industry can derive benefit out of it, Zutshi mentioned. “The RBI has extended the moratorium on term loans for three more months. It will also help the travel and tourism sector,” he stated. Government and the RBI has also nudged banks to be liberal in helping businesses with working capital requirements, Zutshi said.
A lot of people in the travel, tourism and hospitality business are ignorant about various things and therefore, the industry leaders should analyse and disseminate the information to the grassroots, he stated.
When asked about the challenges before the Indian tourism and luxury hospitality which thrived on international travel, Zutshi said that everybody has to learn to live with the domestic for the time being as international leisure would take at least six months to revive. He said that Indian domestic travel is 200 times more than the inbound tourist and there is a segment within it which can pay at par or better than the international travellers.