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Kerala government announces stimulus grants to tourism industry players

Thiruvananthapuram, October 8 2020: The Chief Minister's Tourism Loan Assistance Scheme (CMTLAS) of Kerala Tourism is receiving a good response from the stakeholders. Registrations for the relief scheme crossed 1,000 within a short period of time.
Tourism Secretary Rani George said that the government has taken a very proactive step to support the stakeholders in the tourism industry by initiating schemes for the survival and revival of the sector. "A slew of measures was taken and the most important ones among them were the Tourism Working Capital Assistance Scheme and the Tourism Employment Support Scheme for the employers and employees respectively, with interest subvention from the government. Schemes to provide financial assistance for the maintenance of the houseboats and a one-time financial assistance to the licensed guides in the sector are also effective in supporting the sector," she added.
The move has been welcomed by the tourism industry stakeholders as it can help the sector survive and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. "Tourism is the biggest employment industry in the world and ever since COVID-19 hit, a significant workforce has been rendered jobless. Some form of relief measure was necessary to help the industry, and the government's move to provide soft loans at lower interest rates has offered much relief to those working in the tourism sector. This is the first time a state has taken such a stance, and that will go a long way in helping the sector tide over the crisis," said Mr E. M. Najeeb, President, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI).

Tourism Working Capital Support Scheme (TWCSS): Tourism entrepreneurs/establishments can apply for working capital loan upto Rs. 25 lakh at a rate of interest as per the approved policy of respective banks.
Tourism Employment Support Scheme (TESS): Employees engaged in the travel and tourism sector can apply for short-term personal loans upto Rs. 30,000 from Kerala Bank (Kerala State Co-operative Bank) at an interest rate of 9 per cent.

One-Time Assistance to Tourist Guides and maintenance grant to Houseboat Owners
Bringing much relief to the tourist guides, the state government has also  announced a one-time financial assistance scheme to 328 tourist guides who have been rendered jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A one-time maintenance grant to houseboats, based on the number of rooms in them, has also been announced.  
A financial assistance of Rs. 10,000 each will be given to 251 tourist guides operating in the state, with the approval of the Kerala Tourism Department, and 77 tourist guides approved by India Tourism working in the Kerala region.
The government has given administrative sanction of Rs. 32,80,000 for this.  
These support schemes are expected to help the affected stakeholders survive the crisis, and later aid in the revival of the tourism industry in Kerala. "We hope that these support schemes will also be a small help for those in need in the sector. Along with this, allowing destinations to remain open, and permitting domestic tourists to visit Kerala, in compliance with COVID protocols, will help in the revival of the tourism sector in Kerala," said Rani George, Secretary, Kerala Tourism.
She  added that the Tourism Department had taken up the issue of property tax at commercial rate for homestays with the Local Self Government Department. "On our request, the LSG Department has decided to bring homestays under the category of residential homestays with a different slab rate, considering the fact that the family is also staying in the same house. The notification for this will be issued soon," said Ms Rani George.
The Tourist Guides Federation of South India has expressed pleasure and gratitude for the monetary support extended to the guide community. Remarking that such a move, taken up for the first time in the country, will be a role model for the industry of Tourism, a spokesperson of the federation said.
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