Tourism Related Activities May be Notified as Industry in these Islands: M Vinod

Port Blair, June 14: The Bharatiya Janata Party – A&N Islands, through its Vice-President Shri. M. Vinod has once again taken up the issue of tourism sector in A & N Islands with the Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, Art & Culture Shri. Prahlad Singh Patel, Shri. B.L. Santhosh, BJP National General Secretary (Org) & Prabhari –A & N Islands and Shri. Tarun Chugh, BJP National Secretary & Prabhari - A & N Islands and has suggested various relief measures to ensure survival and for creating travelling atmosphere at appropriate stage/time. The following measures were suggested:

All tourism related activities may be notified as industry in these islands.

All benefits, either in existence or announced, for the MSME sector should be extended to the tourism sector in the islands.

There are several hundreds of youth engaged in travel business as helpers in tourist boats, activities etc. who are now unemployed. They may be engaged in MGNREGA i.e. 100/150 days work in their respective village/panchayats.

Loans availed by the unemployed youth for tourism activities like road transport, water activities etc. may be extended with one year interest exempted moratorium and the loans be rescheduled accordingly.

In large investments in tourism sector like construction of hotels/resorts, sea transport like catamaran, luxury/tourist buses etc., similar relief may be extended with 1 year interest exempted moratorium and restructure the loans.

Unavoidable fixed charges such as electricity charges, water charges etc. should be exempted by making provisions in the budget for the union territory.

Property tax on the tourism properties may be exempted for the last 1 year and earlier dues may be accepted in installments after proper assessment of property tax. Apart from the same, next 1 year property tax may not be charged as the property is idle and not operative due to the pandemic.

Rents levied municipal, panchayats or any government department on tourism establishments be waived off for 1 year and all dues before the lockdown be given sufficient time to settle.

A revival strategy be worked out considering the geographical location of the islands and its remoteness from mainland India. A committee be constituted taking experts from the sector as well as local leaders in the sector. Consultant may be appointed to find and execute the strategy of marketing the destination. All media, print and electronic, should be roped in for the job.

The government should be fully involved in coordinating, controlling the airlines operating from and to these islands at least for 3 years so that affordable air fares prevail which in turn will amplify tourist arrival.

The new terminal building for VSI Airport is progressing well, therefore the next step of the government should be planning for connectivity of Andamans with south east neighboring countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore etc. and international tourism be started in full swing.

Several small businessmen have invested in tourism transport such as tempo traveler buses which are currently non-functional. The administration is running similar buses for public transport. Now since the same is being run with reduced capacity, the gap can be covered by inducting these buses by the Transport Department which will generate some income for survival and payment of loans.

There are many youth who drive well and who were operating tourist taxis/cabs. They are jobless today. The administration may also engage those cars for their official requirements in different departments as already in practice giving priority to those self-employed youth.