Tourism in India during the Pandemic
The pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard. What lies in store for the future?
The tourism industry plays an important role in the economy of numerous countries. India, being the home to some of the most appealing places in the world with absolutely breathtaking views and an amalgam of different cultures from various parts of the country is an all time favorite destination among tourists.
The tourism and hospitality industry in India is one of the largest industries under the service sector in the country. As per the reports of the World Travel and Tourism Council, it contributed nearly US $240 billion to the economy which is around 9.2 percent of the GDP of India during the calendar year 2018.
But with the coronavirus pandemic gripping almost every part of the country resulting in lockdowns, travel restrictions etc has severely impacted the tourism and hospitality industry of India. According to the reports of The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the tourism sector is likely to suffer losses of around Rs 5 lakh crores with the hospitality industry alone losing around Rs 1.58 lakh crores.
Bird Group, which runs Roseate Hotels & Resorts in India are down to 40-45% occupancy forcing them to shut down a couple of public areas to save on costs. The Taj Group’s 88 hotels comprising four hotel brands have suffered major revenue losses in the past few months as they remained shut due to the lockdown.
With the situation still not normalizing and the customer demand continuing at its absolute low, it puts over 85 million jobs at risk as the tourism sector accounts for nearly 13 percent of the total employment in India.
Though the road to recovery from the losses incurred by the tourism and hospitality industry of India due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be easy but if all the stakeholders come together and put unified efforts to overcome the losses then it can definitely attract customers and ensure business continuity.
The key target should be to ensure customer safety henceforth building customer trust which is vital for the survival and success of any business.
The government needs to support the tourism industry through various measures like provident fund relief, interest free loans, GST exemption etc. More efforts need to be put to ensure customer safety through strict protocols, seamless travel among various parts of the country etc that will gradually result in the revival of business activity in this industry rather than just providing short term financial grants.
Technology can also play a very important role in the revival of the tourism industry. With social distancing and contactless business being the only solution to preventing the spread of coronavirus, technological tools for assistance like mobile applications, video conferencing, mobile room keys, self service kiosks, e-shopping, virtual visits etc can have endless applications in this process of revival.
The world post COVID-19 will not be the same again but the efficient use of technology to make the tourists feel safer by ensuring the proper hygiene measures will definitely boost travel, consequently reviving the currently ailing tourism and hospitality industry of India.