Tamil Nadu

Travel agents seek government support for survival, express disappointment over not getting relief in Atmanirbhar package

With uncertainty over when operations can resume and revenues washed out, experts said the industry may face solvency issues

Travel agents in the State have expressed disappointment over not getting any relief in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Shahul Hameed, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India - Southern Region pointed out the major issue has been not getting refunds from airlines for booked tickets, which is hurting their working capital. “We have sold tickets to passengers and also financed some of the tickets. In both cases refunds are pending. We also have made deposits with airlines, which have not been refunded,” he said.

Mr. Hameed said despite a government directive, the airlines have not been refunding, and most of the passengers would be from the MSME segment. “Airlines are offering vouchers for travel at a future date. This might be useful for those who have travel requirements in the future, but not for those whose purpose of travel has lapsed,” he said.

Mr. Hameed pointed out that the revenue for January-June period has been completely washed out and has affected payment obligations like staff salaries, electricity charges and rent and there is uncertainty over when operations can resume.

Tamil Nadu Tour Travel and Hospitality Association president V. K. T. Balan said the refund dues from the airlines are in the range of ₹15,000 crore across India. “Some of the customers have filed police complaints and agents are telling them that airlines have not refunded the amount. Even though the government has ignored the industry, we have no other option than knocking on their doors,” he said.

Mr. Balan said airlines and the travel industry will face solvency issues and find it difficult to operate.

The industry has made representations to both the Central and State government, he added.

Mr. Balan said if the government gives back the GST paid by the industry in 2019-20 and also provides grants from Provident Fund it would help ease some of the burdens. He also said banks are cutting the overdraft limits by half from earlier limits.

Mr. Balan also felt that asking to pay electricity bills based on previous month billings is not justified, as offices were not functioning for two months and also landlords have been demanding rent despite the government directive.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 5:00:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/travel-agents-seek-government-support-for-survival-express-disappointment-over-not-getting-relief-in-atmanirbhar-package/article31630238.ece

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