GUWAHATI, May 24 - The Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA), Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), NE chapter, and the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), NE chapter, a couple of days back submitted a petition to the State government�s Advisory Committee for Revitalisation of the State Economy, headed by Subhas Ch Das and seven prominent economists and experts, and raised the issue of the devastating COVID-19 impact on the tourism sector.
�With the recovery timeline of the pandemic still being unclear, it is feared that the entire tourist season of 2020-21 (till April 2021) will be washed out and this has the potential to derail the tour operators completely. Unfortunately, the distress of tourism stakeholders in the State started in December 2019 with widespread social unrest. The scenario is particularly grim as the tourist season in Assam is effectively just about seven months long (October-April),� the delegation said.�
The tour operators demanded certain short-term measures like providing long-term loans to the tour operators without collateral security, which they said is necessary as most tour operators will need to restructure/rebuild their businesses.
�All this will take a long time to bear fruit and hence the plea for a long-term �soft� loan,� an official statement said.
The delegation also stated that payment of EMIs under the loans already availed by the operators must be deferred till March 2021.
It further urged the government to defer collection of fees for any upcoming trade licences/shop and establishment licences/permits/statutory renewals, etc, for the travel industry in Assam for at least one financial year. It was highlighted that the tourism sector needs a special handholding in terms of financial aid as tourism is seasonal in the region.
The members who were present during the meeting included Ranjeet Das, president, TOAA, Nirmalya Choudhary, chapter chairman, IATO-NE, Arijit Purkayastha, chapter chairman, ADTOI-NE, Shreya Barabara, LEO, ADTOI-NE, Sanjay Thakur, member, IATO, and Anupam Bora, president, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Assam.