Kerala tourism industry likely to lose Rs 20,000 cr this year due to COVID-19

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], Mar 22 (ANI): The Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI) estimates that the State's tourism industry will witness a revenue loss to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore this year due to the impact of COVID 19. The tourism industry body has demanded a revival package from the State and Central governments.

"Kerala tourism industry will witness a revenue loss to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore this year due to the impact of COVID 19. Kerala generated a sum of Rs 45,000 crore from the tourism sector last year. Other sectors dependent on tourism will also be affected," CKTI president EM Najeeb told ANI.

"Kerala had earlier bounced back after Nipa outbreak and the floods. But this time the situation is much worse. We will need the government support to tide over the crisis. Kerala tourism industry has given a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the state CM and the State Finance Minister requesting a revival package," Najeeb added.

The confederation has requested the government through a memorandum to consider offering the state's tour operators a cumulative sum of Rs 5 crore as the Marketing Development Assistance (MDA).

"As far as the hospitality sector is concerned, the confederation has urged the government to provide 50 per cent salary support to all employees. Taxes such as corporate and municipal taxes, and also license fees may be deferred for six months. With regard to electricity high tension (HT) users, they may be charged minimum rates and electricity subsidy reinstated for their benefit," the memorandum said.

It also requested that the MDA scheme may be extended to the hospitality sector also with an amount of Rs 10 lakh per unit in advance, as a lump sum. Homestays may be given Rs 2 lakh in lumpsum as advance.

The registered taxi drivers have a welfare fund and their salaries may be paid from this fund for six months. The fund is already with the welfare board and only needs to be quantified.

Najeeb, while elaborating on the required revival plans, said that banks and financial institutions should extend a moratorium for the next 12 months on all interest, principal to be paid on loans availed by tourism entrepreneurs through a special directive.

Kerala had attracted around 1.96 crore domestic and foreign visitors in 2019, registering a healthy growth of 17.2 per cent as compared to the figures in the previous year affected with floods. But now, this is going to change. The total earnings from tourism stood at Rs 45,010.69 crore, notching a robust 24.14 per cent increase but with COVID-19 aftermath this is estimated to come down drastically. (ANI)