India's tourism industry is on its own and needs to take care of itself, Deep Kalra, founder of travel-booking website MakeMyTrip said on Friday, responding to measures unveiled by the government so far to tide over the coronavirus crisis.
"The message is loud and clear that this industry that contributed at least 10 per cent of GDP, employs more than 10 per cent of our people - this industry is going to be on its own and needs to take care of itself. We need an approval to start functioning," Mr Kalra said.
India's COVID-19 economic rescue plan, billed as a Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus, rests mostly on boosting company credit but contains scant new public spending, tax breaks or cash support to revive demand and prevent firms from collapsing, business leaders and economists have said.
Businesses from airlines to small stores are reeling from the nearly two-month lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of the new coronavirus. Many firms say they won't survive unless they are bailed out immediately.
"The start on 25 May of flights is very encouraging and it is only logical that the other constituents of the industry are allowed to function. People need to stay somewhere when they travel. When the wheels of the industry start moving, only then we can contribute to the economy," Deep Kalra said, talking about the travel and tourism sector.
"We need ensure that the people in this industry hold on to their jobs and are productive and busy. It is critical that this industry is allowed to function now," he added.
MakeMyTrip has partnered with over 30 key leaders from airline, hospitality and other related industries to make a safety pledge to soothe the frayed nerves of travellers and win back their confidence.
The government's COVID-19 plan is not enough of a boost to prevent a likely 5 per cent contraction in Asia's third-largest economy in fiscal 2020-21, Goldman Sachs said this week. It said it expected the economy to shrink an eye-watering 45 per cent on an annualised basis in the quarter to the end of June.
A breakdown of the rescue plan shows that the actual spending of the government is only about a tenth of the Rs 20 lakh crore package, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hailed as 10 per cent of India's gross domestic product in line with the big stimulus plans announced by other major economies.
The government has provided no support to the tourism industry, which is likely to see tens of thousands of job cuts and small firms going bankrupt, the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality has said.