By Mr Amit Sharma,
Of all the industries trying to sustain the pandemic crisis, the tourism industry suffered the most over the past two years. The tourism industry is a significant contributor to a country’s economy in terms of GDP, foreign exchange earnings, and employment. During pandemic business travels, gatherings, and global meets are reduced to zoom calls, especially after the impact of the new strain. It also took a toll on all associated tourism sectors like hospitality, travel agencies, tour operators, and transportation services. Lockdowns across countries and states also have brought travel to a standstill, at least for another few months. That said, the country is gearing up to open international and domestic travels.
According to the recent report -“India Tourism Statistics” published by the Ministry of Tourism, the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during January- April 2021 were 376083 compared to 23,57,877 in January to April 2020, registering a fall of -84.0%. March saw a negative growth of 87% too.
Essential Aspects That Emerged Out of the Current Pandemic
To work on tourism revival, it is essential to understand some fundamental aspects emerging from the current pandemic.
Restoring Confidence in Tourism
Traveller’s confidence has been badly affected by the ongoing crisis and uncertainty. According to a report by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), travellers have become overly cautious in their outlook as the pandemic has stopped their confidence levels to sub-zero. Restoring traveller confidence for utilising public transport is a significant challenge. The fall in traveller confidence has eventually led to a fall in demand and has affected tourism consumption across a considerable period.
Leveraging technology and applications for more convenient travel could bridge the gap. We have already adapted to cashless payments and ensured social distancing while transacting on a day-to-day basis. Bringing in more such ideas to action may restore traveller confidence considerably.
Focus On Strict Safety Protocols and Social Distancing
Traveller behaviour has also been influenced by how the crisis has been unfolding and, thus, would lead to some long-term consumer trends that would reshape how the sector adapts. This would include the emergence of new niche market segments, focusing on safety protocols and contactless tourism experiences.
Limiting Scope of Uncertainty
A more significant and diligent need to give clear information to travellers, both leisure and business, has emerged. The clarity in information provided will essentially limit the scope of uncertainty among tourists.
Encouraging Domestic Tourism
Domestic tourism would greatly benefit the economy if people preferred to travel locally within their own country. Additionally, the new government campaign “Dekho Apna Desh” initiative encourages travellers to explore 15 destinations by the end of 2022 to win a prize. The opportunity is said to be available for international visitors too once international travel resumes. One important aspect is that domestic tourists tend to be price-sensitive and spend less. Tailor Made itineraries to cater for envisaged target travellers would earn high returns.
Safety and Hygiene
Safety and hygiene would be the critical factors for travellers to select destinations and plan their itineraries. Travellers would be likely to prefer ‘customised solutions’ and avoid big gatherings. They could also prioritise private means of transport, which may adversely impact the environment.
Digitisation in tourism services is a vital disruptor that has emerged in this crisis. Leveraging technology for touchless service delivery and contactless payments and services could remain in place post-pandemic too. Investing in new technology will continue to accelerate, with a greater degree of automation, virtual experiences, provision of real-time information and availability of contactless payments and services.
Implementing VR Tourism
Many countries have been implementing virtual reality technology in tourism for all good reasons. It offers customers to purchase experiences and market tourism in a better way. Customers usually look for a lot of information on the websites, and VR can aid them to get to know them effectively. Virtual tours of hotels, booking interfaces, travel experiences, and more can be provided to render first-hand experiences and enable travellers to make informed decisions. We can also use such solutions for marketing our tourism and make people aware of the hidden gems in our country.
The tourism sector is at a crossroads. Implementing measures to overcome the impeding aspects will help reduce the pandemic’s adverse effects on the tourism industry. Building an environment that will make it easier for travellers to arrive and improving the visa approval process might get the international travellers back. Additionally, it is necessary to display a country’s ability to provide safety for tourists to earn traveller confidence. This can be achieved by establishing credible protocols in place.
Let us build a better way forward by establishing robust, sustainable and resilient tourism models in our country. Let us build a wholesome path for the recovery of the tourism sector.
(The author is Founder and CEO at eExpedise Healthcare. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)