“Pandemic has led to massive losses in international revenues for tourism-dependent economies, especially in the export of travel services and the export of transport services.”

The Covid 19 pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and social distancing measures have had a significant impact on the contact-intensive services sector. In the first half of 2021, the service sector shrank by almost 16 percent. Air passenger traffic, rail freight, port traffic, foreign tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings have all fallen sharply following the lockdowns in the first, second and third phases of the pandemic. For example, the number of inbound tourists dropped by 74 percent between January and December 2020 and according to the website of the Ministry of Tourism, the number of foreign tourists seeking medical treatment in India in the calendar year ended December 2020 decreased by 73 percent to 1.82 lakh compared with 6.97 lakh in 2019. But with travel restrictions being lifted and international flights resuming normally from May 2022 and domestic travel already reaching pre-pandemic levels, there is renewed enthusiasm and optimism in the service sector. This year, the industry expects to meet the $240 billion target and by the end of next fiscal year 2022-23, assuming there will be no further virus variants causing disruptions, the services sector is well on track to reach the $325 billion target. by FY 2023. With vaccine rates rising, travelers are gaining confidence to make vacation plans, prompting the tourism industry to see early signs of recovery. FinancialExpress.com spoke with Karan Rathore, vice president of SEPC, founded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 2006 to understand the current state of the travel and tourism industry. fragments:

How travel and tourism have been affected by Covid19?

The ongoing pandemic had brought the travel industry to a standstill. Vaccine development and distribution has helped bring the virus under control and has given the travel and tourism industry a much-needed boost. Before Covid 19, industry was a core part of the economy, accounting for nearly 10% of global GDP and more than 300 million jobs worldwide. Pandemic put millions of jobs at risk between January and October 2020. It led to an estimated 70% drop in tourist numbers compared to the same period in 2019, leading to a collapse in international travel. Pandemic led to massive losses in international revenue for tourism-dependent economies, especially in travel services exports and transportation services exports. The effects of the pandemic are still lingering, but demographics may change soon as restrictions on international travel are lifted.

Do you see the tourism industry, which is a massive contributor to the service segment, gaining momentum in 2022?

Yes absolutely. As restrictions will soon be lifted for international and domestic travel, airport authorities will be fully open with clear covid protocols.

What are SEPC’s recommendations and suggestions for the upcoming National Tourism Policy 2022?

We’ve set some key goals related to the upcoming 2022 National Tourism Policy, which we’ve drafted to streamline our vision of the upcoming announcement. We have attached importance to cleaning hygienic tourist spots and monuments in all corners of the country, while ensuring the safety and security of the visitors. In addition, we also made sure that in order to monitor the flooding of tourists in a destination, we chose to develop Plan B to deal with such situations, especially during summer and winter holidays. We support the government initiative to grow the industry through the private sector and create indirect employment. We also anticipate the introduction of online e-Visa application forms in multiple foreign languages. This will help to increase the number of foreign tourists, including other important suggestions that SEPC has made.

How post-COVID-19 destinations can attract inbound tourism?

Tourism remains one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the outlook remains highly uncertain. Domestic travel has been central since travel restrictions in India were lifted. Rebuilding the tourism industry and providing rewarding experiences to tourists should be done by exploring alternatives to mass tourism, such as sustainable rural tourism, nature tourism, and thematic circuit tourism. Traveler behavior is greatly influenced by the way the pandemic crisis unfolded, making social distancing a necessity. Travelers became overly cautious and gave up on their travel plans. This pattern could lead to some long-term consumer trends that could reshape future adjustments for the tourism industry. This includes the emergence of new niche market segments that focus on security protocols and contactless tourism experiences.

Karan Rathore, Vice President, SEPC Karan Rathore, Vice President, SEPC

How does SEPC plan to encourage local tourism for sustainability?

SEPC is working to make local tourism attractive and accessible to domestic tourism. We promote and encourage government policies such as “Dekho Apna Desh” of the Ministry of Tourism, which encourage travelers to visit at least 15 tourist hotspots across India by 2022 to win rewards. Such initiatives encourage tourists to commit to visiting various tourist destinations across the country. SEPC supports the kind of tourism that fully takes into account current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, and meets the needs of visitors, industry, the environment and host communities.

Are there areas of focus for national tourism policy, such as sustainable and green tourism and more digitization in the sector by making it more user-friendly not only for the operators but also for the tourists, making travel much easier?

The theme for the national tourism policy this year will be on the core areas and largely focus on promoting sustainable & green tourism. Increased tendency towards digitization in the sector by making it more customer-oriented and easily accessible not only for the employees but also for the tourists, which will make travel much easier. There is also a massive emphasis on skills upgrading and the creation of centers for those working in the hospitality industry. Finally, an online training program for guides who are the main driving force behind the tourism industry, which is the face of the entire industry. The sector has huge employment potential, so not only will this policy announcement have a host of other incentives, but it will also flood the environment. This will lead to more investment opportunities in the sector for both domestic and Indian from international sources.

This post Rebuilding the tourism industry must be done by exploring alternatives: Karan Rathore, Vice President, SEPC

was original published at “https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/travel-tourism-hardest-hit-by-the-pandemic-outlook-remains-uncertain-karan-rathore-vice-president-sepc/2466622/”