Declare travel, tourism sector as industry

Declare travel, tourism sector as industry

Even with the risk of Covid-19, 43 days after the lockdown was announced, people are coming back to the track of economic growth. Some industrial and...

Even with the risk of Covid-19, 43 days after the lockdown was announced, people are coming back to the track of economic growth. Some industrial and commercial activities have taken off and some more are likely to start soon. All State governments have given a green signal for opening of liquor shops since it happens to be the only source which can get quick revenue to the government's kitty. Interestingly, some of them claim that they are permitting to open liquor shops following the directions of the Central government. The fact, however, remains that the Centre had only given guidelines and that too because many State governments insisted on it and left the final decision to respective States.

Well, loss of revenue is certainly a matter of serious concern. All State governments are demanding financial package 2. But neither the Centre nor the States have focussed any attention on ways to bail out another major revenue earning sector which unfortunately is not recognised as industry. The travel and tourism industry accounts for nearly 10 % of the global GDP. The loss suffered by the industry is Rs 1.25 trillion during 2020 as a fall out of shutdown of hotel and suspension of flight operations after the onset and spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that, the Centre feels that it is not a priority for it at this stage.

Even after the outbreak is over, people in the industry say that it will take at least a year to recover. Foreign travel will remain restricted in major parts of the world. The Asia Pacific region is anticipated to be one of the worst affected as countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are heavily dependent on the travel industry. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the loss of three months of global travel in 2020 can lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12% to 14%. Also, the United States Travel Association is projecting the loss of 4.6 million jobs.

What's the way out?

Experts are suggesting that the best way out would be to promote domestic tourism in India if the industry were to be put on track and see that it survives corona impact. A new orientation to promote domestic tourism is what is required to attract the young tourists. New and alternative profit centres in these areas will have to be found. So far, lesser known but safe excursion destinations should be identified and encouraged. As social distancing is going to be there for a long time, alternative moderate type of accommodations will have to be worked out. Even the dynamics of group tourism needs to be changed. The State governments will have to play a proactive role in creating new tourist culture which includes providing amenities and niche marketing for new tourism destinations.

Both the industry and the government of India should understand that tourism, trade and travel are not going to be the same again. Short international tourism can be forgotten for another 365 days as people fear that even false positive test could land them in quarantine for 15 days. Since this is one sector which can help the country's economy to be back on track at a faster pace, the Centre needs to consider declaring travel, tourism and hospitality as industry and extend handholding so that it can help in survival and growth in future.

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