Port Blair, May 28: The Andaman Association of Tour Operators has urged the Prime Minister of India to announce some relief measures for the Tourism Industry of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is badly hit due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The President of Andaman Association of Tour Operators Mr. M Vinod who is also President of IATTE (Andaman Chapter) has written a letter to the Prime Minister of India, Minister of Finance and Minister of Tourism pointed out that the second wave of Corona virus which has wreaked havoc nationwide has caused double the damage to an already crippled tourism industry of Andaman and Nicobar Islands that had barely revived in the beginning of this year.
“With bankruptcies, unemployment and closures of businesses around once again, the impact this time is so grave that without government intervention and urgent aid, the lone industry of these islands shall founder,” Mr. Vinod added.
The AATO president demanded urgent implementation of some measures to succor Andaman’s Tourism Industry such as moratorium granted for a period of 1 year from April 2021 to March 2022 for Term Loans, Over Drafts from government and private banks to tourism-related firms and establishments.
All EMIs be deferred for a period of 1 year. After a period of 1 year, all such loans may have their interest rates slashed to half the levied rate at the time of sanction of such loans.
All travel and tourism-related businesses be exempted from GST for a period of three years till March 2024.
All tourism establishments that have their government permits/license renewals from Directorate of Tourism, PMB, DSS, Forest, PBMC, ZSI etc. be automatically renewed till 31st March 2023 subject to an undertaking from the owner that all norms have been complied with. These renewals may kindly be put on fast track mode through a single window system.
Any and all fees/charges/rents levied by the government bodies such as municipals, Panchayat etc on tourism establishments be waived off for a period of 2 years starting from 1st April 2021 for existing as well as upcoming establishments. The same may be done for the previous financial year due to the closure of tourism last year.
Port charges be waived off for a period of 1 year starting from 1st April 2021 for all private boats operating in the islands under IV or MS Act. The same may be done for the previous financial year due to the closure of tourism last year.
The technical Human Resource that is engaged in IV vessels/adventure water sports activities owned by private firms/individuals that have their competency licenses/certificates such as Power Boat Handling, Life Saving Techniques, First Aid, CPR, Parasailing master, SLST etc due for renewal in the next 1 year starting from 1st April 2021 may have their license renewal fees waived off.
Registration certificates/form 12/form 12A/form 8 of IV vessels be automatically renewed till 31st March 2022 subject to an undertaking from the owner that all norms have been complied with.
Tourist permit for cabs whose permissions be automatically renewed for a period of 1 year till 31st March 2022 subject to an undertaking from the owner than all norms have been complied with.
Registration of Shops and Establishments of tourism establishments is automatically renewed for a period of 01 year at no charge.
Electricity/water charges etc be waived off for a period of 1 year.
Applicants of capital investment subsidy scheme at Directorate of Industries be accorded the complete rightful subsidy on fast track mode.
The administration relaxes norms in all possible ways and allows the businesses to restructure and revive themselves through and posts this disaster for a prosperous economy in the future.
Any other monetary/regulatory/statutory relief be granted to travel and tourism establishments to support and prevent them from shutting down entirely.
A temporary separate division with adequate manpower from each department be dedicated as a single window to fast track all the above necessities without delay.
With focus on saving lives, a parallel emphasis be given to saving livelihoods by constituting a tourism revival task force constituting representatives from line departments as well as stakeholders from every segment of the industry. This task force is assigned the onus to brainstorm and plan a roadmap for revival of the industry.
In the first few months of 2021 the tourism industry of A & N Islands witnessed some revival but after arrival of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic again all tourism activities have been closed in this UT, causing huge loss to all stakeholders of A & N Tourism.