Coronavirus pandemic denting tourism, hospitality sector at astonishing pace: Industry body

The cascading effect of the global coronavirus pandemic is crippling the country's tourism and hospitality industry at an "astonishing pace", the Indian Chamber of Commerce said.

The cascading effect of the global coronavirus pandemic is crippling the country's tourism and hospitality industry at an "astonishing pace", an industry body said.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) has come down by about 67 percent annually in the January-March quarter, while for domestic tourists, the figure is lower by nearly 40 percent, according to statistics published by the Tourism Ministry, the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said.

"Disruption due to coronavirus could result in 18-20 percent erosion of nationwide occupancy across the hospitality sector, and 12-14 percent drop in average daily rates (ADRs) for the entire 2020," ICC Director General Rajeev Singh said.

The travel and tourism sector alone accounted for 9.2 percent of India's GDP in 2018, and generated 26.7 million jobs in that year, the ICC said in a statement.

"Most of the tourism companies afflicted by the pandemic are now anxiously looking for interim relief to pay EMIs, taxes and salaries to employees for at least six months," Singh said.

The industry body also recommended a host of initiatives for the central government, including extending the RBI's three-month moratorium on repayment of term loans to six months and a complete GST holiday for the tourism, travel and hospitality industry for the next 12 months.

"ICC recommends setting up of a 'Travel & Tourism Stabilisation Fund' with direct benefit transfer to each unit to prevent financial loss and consequent job loss," the statement added.

India's exhibition sector has also reported an estimated loss of Rs 3,570 crore due to the lockdown imposed across the country to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, say industry players.

The Indian Exhibitions Industry Association (IEIA), the apex body of exhibiting and trade show industry in the country, said the sector has been hit hard due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and urged the government to immediately intervene and offer an economic support package for the industry to relieve some of the stress.

"Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on exhibiting and trade show industry has been unprecedented with multiple global and national events being postponed or cancelled in the country," IEIA said in a statement.

IEIA has urged the government to create an "Exhibitions in India" economic stimulus support package and offer a ten percent incentive to Indian exhibition management companies to organise shows in the country and help recover the losses incurred in these "critical times."

It also appealed for reduction of GST rate for all exhibition services from existing 18 percent to 12 percent with immediate effect, deferment of the GST and Income Tax for six to nine months, and subsidising the venue rentals for government-owned venues, among others.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

(Edited by Kanishk Singh)