The Road Ahead

Outlook Traveller|May 2020

The Road Ahead
PRAHLAD SINGH PATEL, UNION MINISTER OF STATE FOR CULTURE & TOURISM, IN CONVERSATION WITH AMIT DIXIT
AMIT DIXIT
The COVID-19 Pandemic has been very hard on the travel and tourism industry. how do you see the industry recovering? Overall, the industry will recover in a phased manner over a period of time. Having said that, domestic tourism will recover faster than international tourism. And in domestic tourism, for all the reasons that we very well know, city tours and day-drive tours will be the first to recover. Domestic hotels will unlock the opportunity from the drop in international tourism. This will be typical globally, where the travel will be domestic primarily in the form of driving trips which offer safety, hygiene, clean air and water. International tourism is very difficult to predict; it will depend on how the foreign governments react in terms of allowing their citizens to leave their shores to distant lands. The Investment promotion Corporations of various states will do their job and the Trade fair promotion board will ride with them for sure; and the tourism industry can support them if they end up attracting international footfalls. Quarantines are not going to go away. Safety, hygiene and security will be the path to recovery.

Does the ministry of Tourism have any plans to help ease the pain? any special incentives/schemes for the tourism industry?

Given the diverse impact of COVID-19 as well as the different realities in different states, one single balm will not mitigate the impact. Both the central Ministry of Tourism and state tourism authorities have to take action. we have constituted a National Tourism Task force for the revival of the hospitality and tourism industry which is headed by me. This task force includes state tourism ministers, joint secretary-level officers of the concerned central ministries, and representatives from associations like fICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, wTTCII as well as heads of tourism and hospitality associations. we will be holding the first meeting of the task force shortly and make appropriate recommendations for the revival of the tourism sector in the country.

This does not mean, however, that we have not acted earlier. ever since the pandemic started to spread and borders started closing across the world, we have been continuously in touch with the tourism industry of the country. The demands of the industry are already before the Government and I am sure positive outcomes will come. within the means of my own Ministry, I have requested my officials to work out reforms in the existing schemes like Market Development Assistance, extending it to promote domestic tourism, and work out schemes to jointly support the marketing efforts of tour operators and the hospitality industry.

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May 2020