BY SIDDHI JAIN
With global travel strictly on hold and most wish-list destinations reeling under severe Coronavirus impact, tourism is one of the most most-affected industries. As international air travel remains suspended, inbound tourism (foreigners travelling into india) will be at a standstill in the coming few months.
According to a global luxury businesses panel hosted by S.P. Jain Global, the hospitality and aviation sectors are arguably amongst the most impacted segments due to COVID-19, with the Indian hospitality industry suffering losses to the tune of $4.5 billion. However, the industry is anticipating making a comeback by Q4, with certain sub-segments ruling over the others. In the meanwhile what happens to the travel trade? Well, all eyes seem to have turned to the domestic business and leisure market to make up the losses.
While inbound and outbound tourism is expected to be slow, owing to the restrictions placed by countries on international travellers, domestic corporate travel may also take a hit depending on the state of businesses in the country. However, domestic leisure travel is said to rebound swiftly, and will be a major factor in helping the industry recover post the pandemic.
“Initially, people stuck in different parts of the world will travel back to India. Overall, inbound tourism might witness a slow growth. Though India has always been a favourite and affordable spot for international tourists as well as for locals, we can expect a normality by 2021,” Debashish Maitra, director of IJ Dream Vacation told IANSlife. “In simple terms, the first roadblock to an international tours would be taking a flight, which many would like to avoid unless necessary,” says Krupa Gupta Saraogi of bookittours.
According to Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Sterling Holiday Resorts, with international travel expected to slow down at least for this year, it will only add demand in favour of domestic travel, at least for the foreseeable future. “We are most likely to witness revenge spending once the lockdown is lifted, however, there would be a new set of considerations which will come in to play while shortlisting destinations — like safety, hygiene, social distancing, and proximity. Also, India has a plethora of splendid locations like the hill stations, beaches, forests, cultural sites, and other iconic attractions, and Indian travellers are most likely to plan stress-free pocket-friendly domestic vacation with their close ones,” he shares over email.
Ramanathan added that many are booking from July onwards, as a way to holiday out the COVID-19 stress, but a recovery would likely take three to six more months. Travel curator Ricky Nakhat does not anticipate a recovery before winter months. Post that, he says that more foreigners might likely tour India as the spread elsewhere is quite high.
How can we promote India as a safe travel space?
According to stakeholders, self-driving to destinations would see a considerable spike due to safety issues. Hotels, resorts, cab operators, airports and local city sights must ensure sanitisation and assure visitors of it, if they want to attract tourists. Medical tests of hospitality staff must be done regularly, apart from following basic norms of social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Travel insurance would also be aggressively promoted.
Visitors, especially the elderly and those with co-morbidities, can be encouraged to look at stays in zones declared Coronavirus-free or where a lower number of infections were reported. Also people are likely to prefer travelling in small groups. Promoting touchless technology might also help. (IANS)