This year's World Tourism Day on September 27 was celebrated in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic with the countries taking baby steps towards a future of hope. The situation is no different in Kerala and the state government is gearing up to give a new lease of life to the tourism sector, which has been battered by the epidemic, in the next couple of weeks. The authorities have initiated pro-active steps to effectively utilize the September-January tourism season during which the state records the highest tourist footfall. And the most important initiative is the financial assistance scheme for the stakeholders in the tourism sector in a bid to revive the COVID-19-hit industry.
The state government has two loan schemes to handhold the travel and tourism sector that is gasping for breath due to the spread of coronavirus. The entrepreneurs and institutions in the travel and tourism sector can avail working capital assistance through the Tourism Working Capital Support Scheme and employees in the tourism industry can take short-term personal loans under the Tourism Employment Support Scheme.
The state government’s plan is to provide financial assistance to the stakeholders by joining hands with the State Level Bankers’ Committee and Kerala Bank to tide over the present crisis in the tourism sector. Let's take a lowdown on these schemes.
1. Tourism Working Capital Support Scheme
The entrepreneurs and firms in the tourism sector can apply for a working capital loan up to Rs 25 lakhs at an interest rate fixed by the respective banks. The loans should be repaid in 42 months, including a six-month repayment holiday. A total of Rs 355 crore has been earmarked for this scheme. Those running resorts, hotels, Ayurveda centres, restaurants, serviced villas, grihastahli units, homestays, and tour operators/travel agents, transport operators and tourist motor boat operators that are licenced/classified/approved/accredited by state or union governments are eligible to apply for loans under this scheme.
2. Tourism Employment Support Scheme
The employees working in the travel and tourism sector can avail short-term financial assistance to a maximum of Rs 30,000 at a rate of interest of 9 percent from the Kerala Bank (Kerala State Cooperative Bank). The loan should be repaid in 18 months, including a moratorium of four months. The permanent/contract/daily wage employees working in licensed/accredited/classified/approved resorts and hotels, tour operators/travel agents, transport operators, houseboats, restaurants, serviced villas, grihasthali units, home stays, and tourist motor boat operators can apply for these short-term personal loans.