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Wednesday, 20 January, 2021, 15 : 00 PM [IST]

FHRAI urges Centre to promote domestic tourism through Dekho Apna Desh Pledge campaign

The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has appealed to the Government of India to aggressively promote domestic tourism in the New Year. The apex Hospitality Association has pressed on the need to encourage local tourism under the Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Pledge campaign while the country remains closed to international tourists. 

India’s Tourism and Hospitality sectors have incurred the largest collateral damage of the COVID19 pandemic and every small or big step to revive the sector will be crucial in the long-term health of both the sector and the country’s economy. The FHRAI has recommended incentivising domestic tourism by offering tax exemption under 80C of up to INR 50,000/- to Indians which will encourage them to travel.

“The Hon’ble PM has always spoken about how important the Indian Tourism is to the country. We believe that with the right kind of messaging and support from the Government, India’s domestic tourism could flourish. Make in India or Vocal for Local initiatives are on the same line as Dekho Apna Desh and there couldn’t be a more opportune time to push the throttle on promoting domestic tourism. The Government could allow valid GST hotel bills of any State other than the home State of the Individual assessee exempt under section 80C for an additional amount of INR 50,000/-. The potential additional tax saving will encourage citizens to travel within India and will give impetus to hotels as well as ancillary industries,” says Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI.

Hospitality and Tourism sector accounts roughly for 10 per cent of India’s GDP and employs nearly 9 per cent of India’s working population. With zero foreign exchange earnings and less than 25 per cent of pre-pandemic revenues, the sector is facing an existential crisis. The total loan outstanding to the Hospitality industry is approximately INR 55,000 crore and the value at risk for the hospitality and tourism sector is at approximately INR 10 lakh core. If favourable initiatives and policies are not drawn for survival of the Hospitality sector then at least 40 to 50 per cent restaurants and 30 to 40 per cent hotels in the country will shut down, resulting into millions of job losses.

“Over 26 million Indian Nationals travelled overseas in 2019. Right now is the time these travellers can explore their own country. We request the Government to urge people to stay and travel within India. India has some of the best coastlines and beaches in the world, its hill stations and architectural wonders are unparalleled and we also have pilgrimage attractions. There is every reason that the domestic traveller should explore their own country and the Government just needs to induce this want to see one’s own country.  This will save many small and medium-size businesses from imminent and permanent closure,” adds Pradeep Shetty, Jt. Hon Secretary, FHRAI.

“The hospitality industry has much hope from the upcoming Union Budget and hotels and restaurants are expecting sector specific policy announcements from the Finance Ministry under the leadership of Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. The industry needs this more than anything to survive and then, to eventually revive. Travel culture in the country is on the rise and if the domestic tourist is offered incentive, tourism could witness a boom at home,” concludes Kohli.

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