The tourism sector is extensively necessary to the economies of several states around the world, but the sudden hike in the Covid 19 pandemic has brought grievous damage to the entire sector.
Tourism is the country’s third-largest export category (after fuels and chemicals) and in 2019 tourism accumulated over 7% of the global trade.
According to a report by UNWTO, in total 100 million direct tourism jobs are at a venture, and Women, who constitute 54% of the tourism workforce, the youth, and the workers in the informal economy are among the most at-risk categories.
Many tangible and intangible destinations, cultural heritage practices such as traditional festivals and gatherings have been halted and there has been a decision regarding all the ongoing professional activities to be postponed, and with the closure of the sector the markets for handicrafts, products and other related goods have suffered the worst.
The United Nations World Tourism The organization estimates a reduction of 58% to 78% in tourist traffic across the world.
Tourism has been an important earner for the Indian economy, having contributed 9.20 percent to the GDP in 2018. That came down to 6.8 percent in 2019. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy.
For the tourism sector in India, it is no longer is going to be business-as-usual and India has to redesign and re-engineer the strategies regarding the business.
It is essential to measure the impact of Covid-19 and prepare a cogent strategy involving both the government and the industry stakeholders, which can be categorized into three phases:
Survive (short-term), revive (medium-term), and thrive (long-term).
Himachal Pradesh also relies greatly on the sector but with the first wave and lockdown, the statistics plunged to the all-time low in recent tourism history. And when things were about to recover the second wave of Covid-19 again devastated the sector with the hoteliers staggering at another year of loss and the workforce fearing job loss. This is in view of the arrival of the third wave just in four to six weeks that ensures another year of a complete loss.
Also, India the home to religious tourism is the worst sufferer as the religious places could never be opened to the public in the last one and a half years.
In these critical times, the governments have to think seriously over the protection of the interests of affected categories. The major challenge today is to save businesses and jobs. Since lockdown may continue to be a regular feature, the promotion of domestic tourism could be the best answer to revive the tourism industry in our country. With the proper strategy and incentives, domestic tourism can lead the rebound in the early phase of recovery. Technically, domestic tourism has the potential to fully replace foreign visitors and also strengthen our economy.
While domestic tourism is relatively easy to promote, it may face the challenges like limited operations of airlines and hotels because of containment measures; low interest of local tourists in domestic destinations; low demand because of people’s fear of infection, reduced income.
In coming times the Government shall work on the tourism facilities that may be tailored to an international market rather than to domestic tourists. While the GDP of all the states has plunged down, the issues of low income will continue to impress upon the rise of the tourism sector. Still, a strong government directive regarding the maintenance of social distancing and pandemic hygiene is required to gradually open the hotel industry to facilitate the tourists. Like the responsible citizens, the tourists also need to learn, move and behave according to the pandemic guidelines.