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Strong govt policies needed to build traveller’s confidence, say experts

·4-min read

Mumbai, Sep 27 (PTI) Coronavirus-hit travel and tourism sector needs strong government policies to tap opportunities in the new normal, industry experts said on Sunday.

Experts suggested that short vacations and holidays nearer to home are likely to be in trend post COVID-19. They called for uniform protocols across states to attract domestic tourists and tap those who go out of the country.

'This is the time that we need to look at the policies, which would help build the tourism sector post COVID-19. So, we have to adapt to it and build our policies in the new normal,” Maharashtra Principal Secretary - Tourism, Excise and Civil Aviation - Valsa Nair Singh said at an online interaction on the occasion of the World Tourism Day.

“We think this is the time when we need to consolidate all the infrastructure. We are identifying destinations, where we need to strengthen the infrastructure work,” she said.

The Maharashtra government has come up with the Beach Check and Agri Tourism policy, she said during an online interaction organised by the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

'Now when you look at the post-COVID trends, you find that short holidays and holidays are nearer to your home. They are going to be the ones who will have to sustain the sector. So, the state’s coastline, the rural tourism and Agritourism will be more about incentivising farm stays and rural homestays exit tracks.

“We are making an opportunity out of COVID by developing sustainable tourism, with destinations that are safe and that are not congested,” she pointed out.

United Nations World Tourism Organisation Director Technical Cooperation and Silk Road Development Suman Billa said the UNWTO estimates that international tourist arrivals this year is likely to drop.

“What this means in number is that we are going to see one billion less travellers, in terms of tourism exports we are going to see USD 1 trillion less. And in terms of job losses, which is the most important indicator, we are going to see something like 100-120 million job losses on account of COVID,” he said.

Therefore, there is a need to think of a business plan and a business proposition for the new reality in order to navigate space success, he opined.

“I think there is going to be a shift towards more meaningful experiences, and which means that the market will redefine the products. Those who are able to redefine and cater to the changing consumer preferences are those who are likely to survive,” he added.

He said in India every state has their own protocols, and even people do not know what to expect from some states.

“So, the first thing that we need to do is to harmonise all protocols. Make it productive and make it predictable so that a tourist when he travels should know what is to be expected,” he opined.

Further, he suggested that there should be a limited approach by focusing on some key destinations.

“It's very difficult for us to say that all the country is safe. I think the important thing for us to do is to cut your cloth according to your coat, pick up a few key destinations, and work backwards to make them completely safe, and if we succeed, that experience can be used to ramp up in other destinations,” he added.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) president Gurbaxish Singh Kohli said the Indian industry to be very resilient and can always find an opportunity given in the crisis.

“Survival is right now the most important factor in this. Right now, we know that the consumer confidence is at an all-time low and our focus must be on how to regain the trust of consumers. We must be first ready to survive, and then be ready for when that trust comes in,” he said.

As there are lockdowns in many places, long haul travel is not going to happen, he said, adding that short travel or road travel, where one can travel by road by car in 2-4 hours is going to be the industry’s focus for the time being.

“There is a need to focus on tapping those who go out of the country if we can do that it will be a win-win situation,” he added.

India Cruise Lines Association Chairman and Jalesh Cruise Mauritius Chief Executive Officer Jurgen Bailom said there's a lot of positive to take out of this unfortunate situation, and a lot of learning, a lot of great ideas, a lot of new technology, a lot of new things which we can do better in the future and help the industry.

“We work very closely with the government and we are extremely excited to get started again. And I'm all for Incredible India. I think India is a beautiful country, I believe most of the Indians did not see their own country. You have the third-largest coastline in the world. And I think there are great opportunities to come out,” he added. PTI SM MR