“Fiscal incentive” for stakeholders of the tourism industry, which has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, is under consideration of the Union Government, according to the Regional Director (East) India Tourism, Sagnik Chowdhary.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Chowdhury said they have forwarded several representations to the tourism ministry. “Stakeholders across the country have also submitted representations to Delhi. As far as I have come to know, our ministry has sent a composite report to the Union Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce, and both are working on it. In fact, it is under the inter-ministerial process and fiscal incentive schemes are under consideration,” he said.

Eastern Himalaya Travel & Tour Operators’ Association (EHTTOA), the largest platform in East and North East India, organised a programme, ‘New Horizon (Naya Sabera),’ here today on the eve of World Tourism Day.

Addressing the programme, Mr Chowdhury encouraged stakeholders in the region to revive the industry in the post-pandemic period and wondered if they were ready for it.

He also urged all to bring in meaningful development in ecotourism by preservation and conservation of eco systems, by using organic items and replacing plastic.

Addressing the gathering, director of the International Institute of Advance Studies (IIAS), Dr Angshuman Chatterjee, said: “Travellers, who were confined in their homes due to the pandemic, will come out in large numbers to take revenge against coronavirus and it would definitely increase business in the future.” Mr Chowdhury also admitted the same and said this would be a great opportunity to revive the industry.

Padmashree Karimul Hoque, popularly known as ‘Ambulance dada,’ also addressed the programme and urged tour operators to train a group of youths so that they can provide ‘first aid’ immediately after detection of suspected Covid-19 tourists.

Having failed to save his mother’s life, Mr Hoque has initiatives to ferry patients to hospitals in his own initiative in his motorcycle turned ambulance and has so far ferried 5,500 patients to hospitals.

EHTTOA Secretary Sandipan Ghosh said that in March 2020, in association with tour operators in Bangladesh, they received huge tour programmes worth over Rs 12 crore. “But since April, as the lockdown started, the business is still nil,” he said.

“To mark the 25th anniversary of Lataguri as a tourist destination, we selected the venue here to organise the programme on the eve of World Tourism Day,” he added.

The first president of EHTTOA, Suresh Periwal, demanded that the government give first priority to revive tourism, the biggest industry in north Bengal