Bringing much relief to the tourist guides, the state government has announced a one-time financial assistance scheme to 328 tourist guides who have been rendered jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A one-time maintenance grant to houseboats, based on the number of rooms in them, has also been announced.
A financial assistance of Rs. 10,000 each will be given to 251 tourist guides operating in the state, with the approval of the Kerala Tourism Department, and 77 tourist guides approved by India Tourism working in the Kerala region.
The government has given administrative sanction of Rs. 32,80,000 for this.
The government had already approved two loan support schemes for employers and employees in the tourism sector but these schemes did not cover licensed guides in the tourism sector in Kerala.
These support schemes are expected to help the affected stakeholders survive the crisis, and later aid in the revival of the tourism industry in Kerala. "We hope that these support schemes will also be a small help for those in need in the sector. Along with this, allowing destinations to remain open, and permitting domestic tourists to visit Kerala, in compliance with COVID protocols, will help in the revival of the tourism sector in Kerala," said Ms Rani George, Secretary, Kerala Tourism.
She further remarked that the Tourism Department had taken up the issue of property tax at commercial rate for homestays with the Local Self Government Department. "On our request, the LSG Department has decided to bring homestays under the category of residential homestays with a different slab rate, considering the fact that the family is also staying in the same house. The notification for this will be issued soon," said Ms Rani George.
The Tourist Guides Federation of South India has expressed immense pleasure and gratitude for the monetary support extended to the guide community. Remarking that such a move, taken up for the first time in the country, will be a role model for the industry of Tourism, a spokesperson of the federation said, "It is a recognition of the sincere involvement of tourist guides – the academic face of the industry in operation – as well as their role in the indirect promotion of the vital segment. For the revival of the industry that had gone standstill, even though the glow of light does not seem to be very near, we extend our whole hearted support for the post-pandemic promotion of the industry, in all possible ways," said the members of the Federation.
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