The new year seems to have begun on a positive note with India approving the emergency usage of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has also taken a stride in reviving travel and revised its Market Development Assistance scheme with the sole aim of promoting domestic tourism amidst the gradually recovering COVID-19 pandemic scenario. It is believed that domestic travel and tourism will be the key factors driving the revival of the industry in the country.
Incentivising and upskilling tourism industry stakeholders are a top priority and the main objectives of the scheme include:
- Motivating travel agents and tour operators to promote India’s various tourism destinations, including lesser-known ones.
- Training and familiarising the industry stakeholders appropriately for them to package and sell domestic destinations.
The centre or the respective state/union territory governments will provide financial assistance to travel agents, tour operators, tourist transport operators, hoteliers, bread and breakfasts, homestays, motels, guest houses, convention centres as well as online aggregators if they promote domestic tourism, following certain preconditions.
For tourism service providers
Per the revised MDA, tourism service providers will be eligible for financial assistance if they participate in domestic travel fairs/exhibitions. However, the service provider must be approved by the Ministry of Tourism or by the respective state/UT. 90% of economy class airfare or AC 2-tier train fare (up to Rs 35,000) will be reimbursed alongside 90% of the cost participation fee and stall price (total of up to Rs 1,35,000).
The assistance will be provided for up to three tours in a financial year, with one tour to any one particular state. One additional tour will be made eligible if it is made to Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, or Northeastern states. Travel service providers from these regions will be allowed support for a maximum of 4 tours in a year.
The service provider must obtain prior approval from the Ministry and submit reimbursement details within one month of completion of the said activity to be eligible for the claim.
For state tourism departments
Tourism boards will also be provided with financial assistance if they participate in a total of two domestic travel fairs/exhibitions, same as tourism service providers. However, the maximum upper limit for assistance has been capped at Rs 1,00,000.
Financial assistance for digital promotional activities will be provided once a year to both tourism service providers and state tourism boards. All aid will be provided for one person per organization.
With these new measures in place, the Ministry of Tourism plans to do its bit in reviving the hard-hit travel industry which is already showing green shoots of recovery.