Bailout package for ravaged tourism sector pleaded
ISLAMABAD: Tourism experts have pleaded for grant of soft loans and cash assistance to the tourism businesses and low-paid workers under government's loan and emergency cash schemes for ensuring sector's survival next year.
"Anticipating global recession due to the second and third waves of coronavirus pandemic, low-paid workers and small and medium enterprises should be included in Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme and Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Programme to provide the required support to the ravaged sector,” said Aftab Rana, pesident of Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan, in an exclusive chat with APP.
“Cash grants to the daily wagers associated with tourism, relief package for travel and hotel industry, and concessionary loans for SMEs are the need of the hour to protect the sector to fight against the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said, urging the government to focus the domestic tourism which in his opinion was a sole option to achieve the sector’s rebound in the coming years.
Aftab Rana, who is also member of National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), said though the government had introduced some loan schemes for the sector but their criteria was not accommodative for a large number of unregistered entrepreneurs.
“There is no need to take short-term measures for foreign tourism as it dipped by 90 per cent in the country due to worldwide travel restrictions,” he said, adding that less than 100,000 foreigners had visited Pakistan during this season.
In pre-covid times, the country usually received 700,000 to 800,000 foreign tourists per season, he added.
Highlighting the coronavirus impact on domestic tourism, he said tourism in northern areas plunged significantly as only 500,000 tourists visited the scenic spots in that area after the government lifted mobility restrictions from tourism sector in August.
At least 1.5 million tourists visited the northern parts of the country in the last season, he added. - APP