It would not be an exaggeration to say that in the last twelve months of unprecedented crisis, tourism sector bore the brunt of Covid-19 virus as the most severe casualty after human life. Tourism sector was the first hit, worst hit, and as predicted, it will take the longest possible time to recover.
FISCAL MEASURES TO AID REVIVAL
Today, business confidence is dented across the world, across economies. Governments need to lead the recovery by announcing policy changes, measures to mitigate the damage and provide relief, all aimed at:
- Preventing insolvency
- Maintaining liquidity
- Stimulating investment
- Restoring demand
Measures also need to support innovation, build capacity, re-model tourism delivery without compromising on quality and experience. Businesses need to explore alternate markets, destinations and product, re-orienting their business models in the direction of digital and green tourism.
India: Hospitality and Tourism are among twenty six COVID-stressed industries identified by an Expert Committee appointed by the Reserve Bank of India, whose recommendations include restructuring, regularisation or change in ownership of stressed companies as some possible resolution mechanisms. Atmanirbhar Bharat package announced Rs. 3 lakh crore collateral free automatic loan for MSMEs with a 4 year tenure and 12 month moratorium, enabling companies to apply the best-suited solution, maintain liquidity and debt-serviceability until they gradually recover.
Ministry of Tourism is working with State governments and Union Territory administrations to encourage them to implement relief measures via deferment of payments, waiver of penalty or interest on payment of dues owed to the state bodies, etc.
NON-FINANCIAL SUPPORT TOWARDS REVIVAL
Measures taken by various countries include digital campaigns, advisory services, enhanced medical awareness, helplines and support services to reassure travellers of a better experience and boost confidence. Apps to minimise human contact, new modes of information dissemination, and leveraging technology are the way forward.
India: With the Covid vaccine on the horizon, the tourism ministry expects a strong bounce-back in international tourism in 2021.
- The Ministry of Tourism has partnered with the Quality Council of India (QCI), to launch an initiative called SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness and Training for Hospitality Industry), aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat.
- Intervention by India’s Ministry of Tourism to create jobs in the sector target MICE, hospitality, tourism, monuments and culture.
- Another campaign, promoted across television and digital platforms, will highlight safety measures, better airports and road networks that connect various tourist spots to build confidence among foreign tourists planning to visit India.
- Dekho Apna Desh initiative was kept active during the pandemic through a series of impactful webinars covering key destinations.
- Various States are implementing need based relief measures in consonance with their unique challenges post Covid.
Collaborative cross border efforts and robust global support aimed at accelerating tourism recovery are beckoning travellers. The crisis has catalysed a migration to newer, resilient forms of tourism with development of offbeat destinations, hitherto untapped markets and tourism products. National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries are already seen as safe destinations in the vast outdoors, with hotel inside game reserves reporting occupancy as high as 80%.
Domestic tourism is re-surging; ‘Stay-cations’ are the buzzword; Work From Home is redefined as Work From Hotel in a technology-enabled qualitative work environment. With active testing of the vaccine already underway, the first ray of hope for international tourism is seen breaking the horizon. On an optimistic note for the future of the global tourism industry, I take the liberty of extending the theme of Atmanirbhar Bharat to encompass the world, with a vision.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. Author shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organization directly or indirectly.