Coronavirus: India’s hospitality sector in ICU

Chennai: 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 per cent annually in the January-March quarter, while for domestic tourists, the figure is lower by nearly 40 per cent, according to statistics published by the Tourism Ministry, the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said.

“Disruption due to coronavirus could result in 18-20 per cent erosion of nationwide occupancy across the hospitality sector, and 12-14 per cent 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 per cent 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 lost an estimated 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 industryto relieve some of the stress.

“Since the outbreak of the COVIC-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.

“In last few weeks more than 90 shows have been reported to be either postponed or cancelled due to COVID- 19… with a resultant estimated loss of Rs 3,570 crore for the entire sector and this may increase if COVID-19 crisis lingers on,” IEIA president S Balasubramanian said.

According to IEIA, the size of Indian exhibition industry is Rs 23,800 crore with more than 550 events conducted annually in the organised sector.

The exhibition industry sector enables trade/business transaction of over Rs 3,00,000 crore, boosting and supporting the growth of various spectrum of industries while also being a colossal employment provider with nearly 1,20,000 people employed in this industry, it said.

Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) recently cancelled the spring edition of IHGF (Indian Handicrafts and Gift Fair) Delhi fair, considered to be the world’s largest congregation of handicrafts and gifts items which was slated to be held from April 15, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the statement said .

It was expecting 7,000 overseas volume buyers and over 3,200 small & medium handicraft manufacturers and exporters as exhibitors from various parts of the country, it said.

“The fair normally generates export orders worth Rs 6,000 crore and thereby source of livelihood to seven millions of craft persons who are from small and weaker section of society,” Rakesh Kumar, Director General, Export Promotion council for Handicrafts, an apex body of handicrafts sponsored by the Union Ministry of Textiles, was quoted as saying in the statement.

IEIA has urged the government to create an ‘Exhibitions in India’ economic stimulus support package and offer a ten per cent 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 per cent to 12 per cent 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.


NT Bureau