Andhra’s travel agents in dire straits
K Vijaya Mohan, President of the Tours and Travels Association of Andhra, has said that travel agents in the state have suffered a cumulative revenue loss of Rs 2,000 crore due to COVID-19 outbreak. At this rate, they would end up losing Rs 3,400 crore by the year-end, he said.
In a letter written to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, he said the government should give certain benefits to bail out the travel sector. He noted there are about 1,000 travel agencies in the state and one third of them are in Visakhapatnam, many of whom are suffering economically.
The government should offer some relief to all stakeholders as the travel industry is staring at bankruptcies, closure of businesses and mass unemployment. The whole tourism value chain across hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, destinations, restaurants, family entertainment venues and air, land and sea transportation have been hit, he said.
Vijaya Mohan said most travel agents have become broke and are in no position to sustain themselves. About 30% of the agents have become bankrupt. Many of them are on the verge of closing their businesses. If the present situation continues 90% of travel agents would close their businesses by year-end, he said.
The Andhra government should declare the travel and tourism sector as an industry like Maharashtra, Kerala, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Puducherry have done, he said. Funds on the lines of MNREGA should be created to give basic salaries with direct transfer to affected tourism employees. He requested the Chief Minister to bring all employees of the tourism sector under the Aarogyasri scheme.
Vijaya Mohan also said the inter-state taxes should be exempted up to March 31, 2021 to promote domestic tourism and tax exemption should be given for eight-seater and mini-buses operating as intra-city tourist buses till that period. He urged the government to bring down the GST on domestic tour packages to 2%.