TAAI seeks relief measures for travel agents amid COVID crisis

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Mumbai, May 22 (PTI) Travel agents' body TAAI on Saturday sought from the government a slew of relief measures, including moratorium on loan repayments, financial assistance and a five-year income tax holiday for the industry, saying that basic survival has become a challenge for the fraternity amid the pandemic.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) said the travel and tourism trade at large has been affected phenomenally with bad debts from clients and increased insurance premiums for staff, among others.

Stating that its members have not even been able to do business of more than 5 per cent as compared to the pre-pandemic times since the last over 14 months, the letter said basic survival has become a challenge for the fraternity.

'While our members tried their level best to sustain their staff for a few months, however with the global scenario undergoing the second and third wave, are compelled to reach out to you for guidance, assistance and encouragement so as to take care of the livelihood of the personnel working in the trade,' it said.

Noting that the 'worst hit' are the junior and mid-level teams such as frontline counter staff, ticketing staff, airport representatives, guides, porters and drivers, who are unable to arrange even basic needs, it said its middle and senior members, including the owners, have got impacted by the pandemic as well.

'...we seek your attention in providing immediate support to all engaged in travel and tourism including at least a 2-years moratorium on all loan EMIs for our staff and members, grant of Rs 10,000 per month per employee for the next one year until normalcy resumes.

'This shall be paid back, free of interest to the government in installments over 24 months thereafter or deducted at an interest rate of 15 of their salary and paid back to the exchequer,' TAAI said in the letter.

Besides, the travel agents body has demanded facilities for fresh collateral-free loans and overdraft at rebated interest for a period of at least five years or until normalcy returns, as well as a five-year income tax holiday for its members.

Requesting the government to direct the states to consider waiver and reduction in property taxes, stamp duty, commercial licence fees and other local taxes for another three years, TAAI said all employee benefits like ESIC, professional tax, PF, gratuity, among others, need to be synchronised and brought under one head so as to ease the compliance burden.

'We do not seek grants as alms, but seek support in terms of repayable loans. This shall be repaid back to the Government post the 5 year period after the crisis ends.

'This shall only be an interim working capital for survival and revival along with ease of doing business,' the letter stated. PTI IAS ANU ABM ABM

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