Covid-19 impact on tourism: The second wave brings shadows on hopes

Covid-19 impact on tourism: The second wave brings shadows on hopes

Like the rest of the sectors, Covid-19 impact on tourism too has been huge. Indian tourism industry too is no different. The country is witnessing a rampaging second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, that has curbed domestic and international travelling, leaving the tourism industry and its stakeholders in dire distress. Is the government doing the needful to help the industry to sail through this crisis?

Opinions are many and predictions are no less!

Some say they had predicted the second wave in India and the government did not bother. Some said that we have reached the end of fighting Covid. Still, some others say that we will have a third wave shortly!

Incredible India!

AFT

Tourism had a slow return at least in domestic travel from November onwards. This was a big relief at least for the hoteliers until Mid March when the country started the hints of the second wave. Now we are at the peak. Instead of a National lockdown, each state declared lockdowns. Even otherwise who will travel when the numbers are rising and much bad news is in the air. So basically the second wave was almost like disconnecting the oxygen tube as far as the already gasping for the breath tourism industry. During this wave, the rest few entrepreneurs who tried to sustain also are terribly affected.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel and tourism industry’s employment loss is predicted to be 100.08 million worldwide.

~ Statista

Now, what is awaiting us? A complete confusion due to the lack of planning on survival and revival. The central government has no idea how it is going to vaccinate a population at least to reach herd immunity. How idiotic is it for some experts to comment that India will have a third wave In October? Cant these experts plan well to stop another wave in five months? While boasting about India as the vaccine hub of the world, we failed in vaccinating even our front-end warriors. The tourism sector is still not on the priority list for vaccination.

Indian Tourism Industry is mainly having two problems at present.

Tourism Ministry and its officials are happy as they can enjoy their paychecks without doing anything. If they just look around what is happening as far as tourism planning, they would have taken an initiative to discuss with the industry how to ensure survival followed by revival. Even the foreign offices of the Ministry have nothing to update on what our source markets are asking.

Indian Tourism Industry is mainly having two problems at present. The first one is the survival crisis. Then comes when can we revive?

A giant industry with a huge contribution to the GST & Forex Kitties of the country along with unimaginably huge size of employment is been completely discarded by the government.

A giant industry with a huge contribution to the GST & Forex Kitties of the country along with unimaginably huge size of employment is been completely discarded by the government. They behave like there is no such industry exists in India. Millions of employees lost their jobs, nobody bothered. During the budget session, Hon Finance Minister said that the government has appointed a consultancy to study the employment loss and business loss to bring out remedial measures. After this many months, there is no report on such data. Fortunately in Indian Tourism Industry, there is absolutely no leadership who has the guts to ask the authorities about such things.

Recently announced ECLGS 3.0 for the hospitality industry is just an eyewash.

Banks all turned their faces towards Tourism Industry. No more financial support is available. Recently announced ECLGS 3.0 for the hospitality industry is just an eyewash. It says 40% of the loan outstanding amount as on 29 February 2020 will be provided as an additional loan. It was repeatedly informed that on the above-mentioned date, most of the firms were not having high utilisation as it was peak season with enough cash flows. Nobody listened to the cries during the time of ECLGS 2.0. At least now when they brought industry-specific financial assistance, shouldn’t they see whether it helps the trade? No ministers want to meet tourism stakeholders. No discussions allowed. Now, most of the stakeholders don’t know how to survive until revival.

When it comes to revival which is the only hope, nobody has a clue. When the foreign partners have started asking about the possible dates for reopening of borders, Tourism Ministry is blank without any plan or suggestions. Isn’t it the Tourism Ministry to formulate a feasible strategy to be submitted to other concerned ministries so that a decision is taken and work backward? When a government is irresponsible, then why the officers work towards the survival and revival of the tourism industry?

Covid-19 impact on tourism:

  • The Indian tourism industry can be divided into three major segments – (i) International inbound tourism, (ii) Domestic tourism; and (iii) Outbound tourism.
  • The Indian tourism industry has created about 87.5 million jobs, with 12.75% of total employment, contributing Rs 194 billion to India’s GDP (WTTC, 2018).
  • Indian tourism sector recorded a 3.2% growth from 2018, with 10.8 million foreign tourists arriving in India with a foreign exchange earning of $29.9 billion in 2019.
  • India ranked 8th with respect to total direct travel and contribution towards tourism of about $108 billion (FICCI, 2020).
  • Overseas tourist arrival in India declined by 66.4% in March 2020 compared to March 2019 (TAN, 2020).
  • It was estimated that there are around 40 million direct and indirect job losses in the Indian tourism industry, with an annual loss in revenue of around $17 billion in India (FICCI, 2020).

The serious concern is that if India doesn’t work out a re-opening strategy and announce well in advance, we will lose another season fully. As everyone knows, foreign travellers plan their holidays well in advance and if we are not ready or we don’t say when we may be ready, they will opt for other destinations. When vaccination is globally accepted as the best possible remedy for covid, what stops us from allowing tourists who have a vaccination certificate? We don’t need to open the borders now but cant we say that we have a plan to open by August or September?

India will be the only country failing its tourism businesses by neither giving any financial stimulus to survive nor having a plan for the revival. The government deliberately forgets the rights of the individuals for life and livelihood and the government has a duty to perform. They should not insist that the citizens should approach the judiciary every time to ensure their right to live and make a livelihood.

The biggest problem with the tourism industry is that the giants don’t need the help as they have alternate sources and the small and medium ones have no power for political lobbying which the government knows well. But it’s cruel to do this to the passionate human resources in Tourism and the huge investment base. It’s not late still if the government can open its eyes. Tourism is the best face of any country to reflect its image to the world. If we fail our tourism now, we will regret it sooner!

Also Read: Hills now and hills then: Changing faces of homestay tourism and Teesta river

(George Scaria is the Managing Director of Keralavoyages India Pvt Ltd, a Travelife Certified Tour Operator.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Partnersincrave.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)

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