He said that he wants the travellers to be assured that the places where he is staying, eating and travelling to are safe and sanitized.
Coronavirus and tourism: With focus on domestic tourism and safety at every point of destination, India is set to reboot the travel sector! Now worldwide, the tourism sector has been among the worst hit areas during the coronavirus pandemic. All over the world, with the lockdown being enforced and flights being halted, places that mainly rely on tourism for their revenue have been largely suffering. Moreover, the hesitation of most people regarding the sanitization of the destinations is also a major hurdle in the sector. In an interaction with the IE, Union Minister of Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel explained how the government plans to revive the tourism sector and emphasised on how the spirit of innovations can help reboot the tourism sector. The minister highlighted safety steps and precautions are being stepped up to boost the tourism sector and how it may become necessary to promote off beat domestic destinations which promote tourist activities that are in sync with nature and social distancing norms such as trekking, wellness retreats, moutaineering,etc.
Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on tourism
Talking to IE, the minister said that the success of the segment is measured based on the number of tourists arriving at the destination and the earnings in foreign exchange. Revenue and job loss are the measures to assess the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the sector, he said, adding that the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) has assessed the impact of the pandemic and presented it to the ministry.
Outlook of the tourism sector after coronavirus pandemic
On being asked about the vision for the tourism industry once the pandemic is over, Patel said that it would have to be revived at the earliest, for which the demand needs to be revived. He expressed his hope that the stimulus package by the Centre would aid in this as it would have an overall impact on the country’s economy, driving up the employment and leading to more money at the disposal of the people. This will ultimately trigger a demand for travel, he said.
How travellers need to be assured of safety following COVID-19 pandemic
Further talking about the hesitation of tourists about travelling due to the fear of the disease, he said that the ministry is looking at making the destinations safe. He said that he wants the travellers to be assured that the places where he is staying, eating and travelling to are safe and sanitized. For this, he said, the ministry has released operational guidelines for hotels, accommodation units, restaurants and tourist services providers like travel agents, tour operators and cab providers.
He added that even the sector knows how things have changed and people in the industry itself are coming up with innovation. The industry has learnt the need for programmes that train, educate and develop people to help them prepare for any adversity by innovative business models.
Promotion of domestic tourism post COVID-19
Revival of international tourism would take some time, he said, and therefore their focus is to promote domestic tourism. The ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative launched by the ministry before the lockdown would be continued, he said, emphasising that people need to get over their fear of travelling and the initiative would encourage them to travel to their neighbourhood attractions. He added that promotion of off-beat attractions and wildlife and wilderness destinations is also in the ministry’s plans.
Tourism strategies after coronavirus
He said that the first message that will be sent by the industry is that “We are open” once international travel is allowed. He added that the country would also have to communicate that the destinations are safe and that measures for hygiene and safety have been put in place. He further said that initially they would focus on promoting off-beat destinations and places which naturally promote social distancing like wildlife, wellness retreats, mountaineering and trekking among others.