India Domestic Tourism Will Help Boost Economy
Coordinated and concerted efforts needed
Mr. Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (IC), Government of India, said that the pandemic has deeply impacted the travel industry, and opening up of India domestic tourism will help in boosting the economy post COVID-19. The need is to have coordinated and concerted efforts from all stakeholders including the Government of India, state governments, various ministries, and industry. He added that if we are able to build consumer confidence, domestic tourism will pick up in no time.
Addressing Tourism E-Conclave: Travel & Hospitality: What’s Next? organized by FICCI, Mr. Patel said that the travel and hospitality industry is struggling to survive and the government should provide relief to the sector by way of considering reduction in bills and charges for hotels and other such measures. He added that there are barriers in opening up of the sector and urged the industry to share its recommendations to overcome them with the tourism and finance ministries and other departments.
Alluding to the importance of collaboration and synergy amongst stakeholders, Mr. Patel said that he has been writing to Chief Ministers of various states to jointly work towards saving and reviving the tourism sector. He has also written to the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to open the tiger reserves with the requisite road infrastructure.
The Minister said that the need is to identify priority areas in the travel and hospitality sector in tandem with state governments for developing various circuits in the country. He added that with COVID-19, we are facing an unprecedented challenge, but the industry has maintained a positive stance and is working towards the survival and revival of the tourism sector.
Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner Cum Secretary, Tourism Department and Sports & Youth Services Department, Govt of Odisha said that COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to think about new tourism products and new ways of promoting tourism within the country. Domestic tourism will be a priority for us, especially for the next few years. He added that Odisha has finalized the road itinerary between Odisha and major cities of India to give a boost to tourism sector and will start promoting it in September.
Mr. Dev said that the Government of India should work with the state governments to introduce long distance inter-state circuits. Also, luxury river cruises can be another area which can be developed for promoting tourism in the country. He added that it is important that we assure all tourists that our destinations are safe for visitors and to achieve this, all stakeholders need to work together.
Mr. Anbalagan. P, Secretary, Tourism, Govt of Chhattisgarh said that the focus should be on augmenting domestic tourism. For this, regional collaborations need to be forged as it will make movement of travellers across states easier. He added that industry and tour operators are working on the guidelines and SOPs issued by the state government for ensuring that all safety measures are in place for tourists when the sector opens up.
Highlighting the tourism destinations in the state, Mr. Anbalagan. P said that though Chhattisgarh is a nascent state, it is gifted with natural beauty. To attract domestic tourists from across the country, the focus will be on ethnic, tribal and eco-tourism. Sustainable tourism will be the way forward and the key is to make all tourism activities sustainable, he added.
Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Past President, FICCI & Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee & CMD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group said that owing to the pandemic, the travel and tourism sector has been severely impacted and will take a long time to recover but we believe that domestic tourism will be the torch bearer towards the revival of our industry. Emphasizing on the importance of cooperation, she added that synergy needs to be built amongst stakeholders to ease domestic movement of travellers within the country.
Dr. Suri pointed out that currently each state has its own guidelines pertaining to quarantine. She suggested that all the states should have a uniform policy and safety protocols for the movement of domestic tourists as this will encourage them to travel to any state without checking the various guidelines.
Mr. Dipak Deva, Co-Chairman, FICCI Tourism Committee and Managing Director, SITA, TCI & Distant Frontier said that creating safe bubbles between states could be a great start to the domestic tourism. He added that more than 2000 professionals from the tourism and hospitality industry are participating in the two-day conclave and FICCI is working with various stakeholders for charting the future course of tourism industry.
Mr. Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said that tourism is the most affected sector by the pandemic and to boost the local economy, many states across the country have started opening up tourism, which is encouraging.