COVID-hit tourism industry feels let down as no special packages announced in budget for sector

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By Joymala Bagchi |
Update:
07 February 2022 15:06 STI

Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India]Feb 07 (ANI): With no mention of special packages or relief for the tourism industry in the 2022 Union Budget, Agra’s tourism associations and guide associations feel left out.
The tourism industry has been hit hard due to COVID-19 induced restrictions over the past two years. Tourism is one of the main sources of income for a large number of people in the city as it is home to three UNESCO recognized heritage sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
“It is surprising that there is not even a single mention of the tourism industry in this year’s budget. Everyone knows what is going on with people associated with the industry. There is still no reaction from the leadership of our state and it is demoralizing. People have been suffering for two years,” said JP Singh, President of UP Pariyatan Guide Association.
For two years, associations have been asking for help from the government, sending letters/representations, meeting ministers, but all of this has been in vain. They are demanding to waive GST, property tax for a specific period when the tourism industry has suffered the most.
In India, there are two categories of government approved guides i.e. central and state. There are about 1100 government recognized guides in all of Uttar Pradesh while 381 guides are recognized by the central government. Among them, about 450 guides operate in Agra alone.
The central government has recently announced a policy of providing loans worth Rs 1 lakh to Girl Guides.
“There was no mention of the tourism industry, no mention of packages. Loans can never be a relief because if there is no income we will repay the loans,” Vishal said. Sharma, Secretary of Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber.
“The tourism industry as a whole is barely functioning because tourism has dropped dramatically,” he said.
“In addition, there are also 4-5 cases where the guides after receiving the loan from the banks had to return it for some reason until an unknown date,” said a guide.
A number of people associated with the tourism industry for their bread and butter were forced to turn to different professions of which they had no prior knowledge and the required skills. (ANI)

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