FAITH urges govt to conduct India Tourism Mart in November

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has requested the Indian government to conduct India Tourism Mart (ITM) at the end of November this year.

Subhash Goyal, Honorary General Secretary, FAITH interacted virtually with the Minister of Tourism,  Prahlad Singh Patel, where he proposed multi-step strategies for revival of tourism. These issues were identified to enhance tourism demand while protecting tourism supply in India.

According to Goyal, ITM will help in promoting India to tour operators all over the world. “Last two years, we had 250 buyers. This year in the virtual mart, we hope to interact with more than 500 leading travel agents and tour operators from all over the world,” he said.

Tourism requires a coordinated approach across all ministries at the Central government level and between the Centre and the state. Hence, FAITH has proposed a dual task force strategy with an inter-ministerial task force at the Central government level and an interstate task force. These two task forces need to be empowered and be made agile to fast-track decision making as tourism will be the last sector to revive.

To stimulate domestic tourism, FAITH has demanded uniform quarantine policy across all states. This will provide confidence and give knowledge to bath business and leisure tourists.

Goyal extended his gratitude to the Tourism Minister for agreeing to organise a joint meeting of the Indian travel agents and tour operators with the Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri to sort out the pending issues of the tourism industry. He suggested that since there is no quarantine for those passengers who have taken a negative COVID test 96 hours prior to the travel, the Ministry of Tourism should aggressively market India as a safe & hygienic destination in all international electronic media and social platforms.

During the discussion, he further proposed a uniform interstate quarantine policy as in many states, only people who travel by air are quarantined and the people who travel by road are not. He also stated that the incentives given on business conferences and events should also be extended to e-conferences, social events and film production events.

As travel bubbles have started between India and a few other countries, FAITH has proposed a multi-year, e-visa for all categories till inbound demand stabilises. This needs to be complemented by publicising widely the revised 96-hour RT PCR policy for COVID testing and ensuring standardisation across all airports.

Goyal offered that tour operators and travel agents recognised by the tourism ministry should be allowed to operate tours for adventure, religious, or education purposes. It is also very important to extend the moratorium on bank loans availed by hotels, tour operators and tourist transporters by another three to six months, he said.

FAITH has requested for all states to support hospitality by giving a statutory waiver on all fixed liabilities power costs, liquor permits, property cesses and so on. It has suggested that GST be rationalised for hotels so as to stimulate domestic travel.