The tourism fraternity in Kerala will observe May 1 as Black Day to pressure the State government to resolve the problems faced by the sector due to the restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tourism Samrakshana Samithi, an umbrella body of 20 organisations, will observe the Labour Day Statewide this time by wearing black masks. A social media campaign #SaveTourism too will be launched.
Even entities generating some revenue out of tourism are in dire straits, according to the forum. Tourism has been a mainstay of the Kerala economy, generating ₹44,000 crore annually and providing 15 lakh jobs. However, the sector has been struggling in the past 14 months, the Samithi says.
The second wave of COVID-19 has led the administration to impose further travel restrictions. Of the 18,000 people who tested COVID-positive recently, only 269 were from outside Kerala — and none of them was in the State as tourists. Workers in the sector have been strictly following the COVID-related protocols.
Samithi convenor Sudheesh Kumar says its demands include providing ₹5,000 a month to the jobless in the sector, a package aiding the workers involved in tourism, exemption from taxes and fees for tourist vehicles and houseboats, and moratorium on tax arrears.
An immediate financial package of ₹250 crore to support the tourism workers, financial aid as loan worth ₹2,500 crore through the Kerala Bank and restructuring of all bank loans in tourism sector are the other demands.
The organisation has also sought easing of restrictions on tourist movements and a 24-month moratorium on GST. RT-PCR test should not be made compulsory for those visiting Kerala and returning, it says.