Thiruvananthapuram: Offering a relief to entrepreneurs and employees in the tourism sector, which was a top revenue earner for the state before the pandemic-induced lockdown landed it in deep crisis, the Kerala Government has announced a Rs 455-crore loan scheme.
Announcing the scheme, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that entrepreneurs would be sanctioned loans up to Rs 25 lakh by the State-level Bankers’ Committee through various banks. “Fifty per cent of the interest during the first year would be repaid by the government as subsidy. While 2,500 small-scale entrepreneurs will get loans amounting to Rs 1-3 lakh, an equal number of large businesses can avail loans from Rs 5-25 lakh. The government has set apart Rs 355 crore for the purpose,” said the Minister.
Moreover, a repayment holiday would be effective for the first six months. The Tourism Department will spend Rs 15 crore from the Plan Fund to pay the subsidy.
Meanwhile, employees in the sector can avail loans of Rs 20,000-30,000. This scheme, for which an amount of Rs 100 crore has been set apart, would be implemented along with the Kerala Bank. The government is planning to extend loans to 50,000 tourism employees under the scheme, for which an interest of 9 per cent would be charged. However, the workers need to pay an interest of 3 per cent only as the remaining 6 per cent would be met by the Tourism Department as subsidy. There is a repayment holiday of four months and interested workers can approach the Deputy Director, Tourism of their district to apply for the loan.
At the same time, the money spinning tourism industry in Kerala has taken a severe beating on account of the COVID pandemic and according to Kadakampally Surendran, the loss suffered is around Rs 25,000 crore.
He said the tourism industry has suffered one of its worst ever disaster.
"The loss that has been suffered is Rs 25,000 crore and it has hit thousands of people working in the industry very badly. The state government has now announced a package of Rs 455 crore for the industry," said Surendran.
It was a record 1.96 crore tourists who arrived (domestic and foreign) in Kerala in the 2019 calendar year.
It registered a 17.2 per cent growth as compared to the 2018 calendar year.
This rate of growth is a record of sorts as it's the first time since 1996 that such a rate has been achieved,
The total earnings from tourism stood at Rs 45,010.69 crore, notching a robust 24.14 per cent growth.
The total number of tourists was pegged at 1,95,74,004, of whom there were 1,83,84,233 domestic tourists and 11,89,771 visitors from abroad.
In 2018, the number of tourists visiting Kerala was 1,67,01,068 (domestic tourists 1,56,04,661 and foreign tourists 10,96,407).
The growth rate in the inflow of domestic tourists was 17.81 per cent while for the foreign tourist arrivals, it was 8.52 per cent.
With Kerala now witnessing a daily spike in new COVID cases, the presently estimated loss in the tourism industry is expected to further surge as Kerala's peak tourism season is between end of September till January.
In Kerala the total number of COVID positive people will soon reach 50,000, and the daily average count of new COVID cases is expected to cross 2,000.
(With inputs from IANS)