The Silver Bullet to Recovering Tourism is Mandatory Testing

New Delhi: The tourism industry in India is one of the most important contributors to the economy of the country and accounts for 9.2% of the country’s GDP and employs close to 8.1% of the population. The unprecedented COVID-19 induced crisis has led to a shutdown of the Travel & Tourism industry and has placed significant pressure on every stakeholder, with regard to finances and cashflows, employer and employee frictions and uncertainties, and how long the sector will take to revive itself. Now more than ever, the idea of being able to revamp India as a whole to become a prominent tourism destination of the world needs to be pushed.

As part of Celebrating World Tourism Day 2020, CII has organized “India: A Safe Tourist Destination”, a series of sessions that brought together experts from the Government and Industry to help re-strategize the restoration of the nation’s travel & Tourism Industry. The sessions deliberated around the need for the sector to be re-open and enable businesses to restart, the importance and practicality of air bubbles, developing tourism safe chains and reimagining the entire Indian Tourism Experience.

The Ministry of Tourism is keen to have common protocols across states as this is the right to time to benefit from destinations that are lesser known stated Ms. Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. It is imperative to create the necessary and sufficient interest surrounding these destinations and we are working with the Ministry of Culture to make our heritage areas more lucrative.

The Government of Maharashtra sees this as an opportunity to create a new roadmap for tourism expressed Ms. Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary Tourism, Culture, Excise and Civil Aviation, Government of Maharashtra. It is a much needed signal to look at low hanging fruits the state has, with over 53 weekend stays already identified from the major cities. Vacation rentals are going at the fore as we move forward. Thiru. Vikram Kapur, Additional Chief Secretary Tourism, Art and Religious Endowments Department, Government of Tamil Nadu addressed Tamil Nadu’s strategy to boost domestic demand. The Government has utilized this lockdown period to start re-calibrating our strategies and have identified 295 locations where want to work out detailed strategies and master plans which will address infrastructure issues and issues that pertain to safe tourism. Our focus has mainly revolved around supply side solutions, however, it is imperative that we work on the demand side of issues moving forward.

World tourism day 2020 highlights the important role of the tourism and hospitality industry in promoting the economy, culture & heritage, and employment all around the world stated Mr. Puneet Chhatwal, Chairman CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality MD & CEO IHCL. As the sector begins to open up, it is imperative that we focus on; restarting the sector, refocus our industry and reimagine our business.

Mr. Deep Kalra Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality Founder & Executive Chairman MakeMyTrip underlined the silver bullet to deal with this crisis; mandatory testing. If each and every person is tested using a rapid antigen test, everyone else aboard a flight or those who enter a hotel will feel reassured alleviating the fear factor that currently prevails.

Ms. Aradhana Khowala, CEO & Founder Aptamind Founder & Board and Steering Committee, World Tourism Forum Lucerne addressed 5 key points that need to be covered to promote tourism: Destinations need to come up with innovating campaigns to stay engaged with future travellers. India needs to promote itself in a better manner to the domestic population. We need to rethink the way we do traditional Business. Strict health & safety standards, measures and regulations will be essential to see customers return. And lastly, technology will be at the fore providing a variety of high technolgy solutions. Mr. A J Singh Professor & Founding Director Hospitality and Tourism Management Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship addressed that recovery is going to take time and we have to be patient. We cannot be passive and wait for the vaccine. We need to make sure policy matches ground level realities, move away from quarantines and focus on testing.

Mr. Conrad Clifford, Regional Vice President Asia-Pacific, International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed that if testing can be implemented in a wide- spread scalable way, without a quarantine period, we will certainly be able to spur international travel. Safety of the population is priority, and if a regime for travel is in place, people are going to travel. This is first and foremost a healthcare and humanitarian crisis that has caused the economic, aviation and T&T crisis. When we do open up, it is imperative it be done in a way that is safe and keeps it open rather than perpetuating a second and third wave stated

Ms. Anita Mendiratta, Global Advisor and Author – Tourism & Development Special Advisor to Sec. Gen. UNWTO said Mother Earth has created a scenario where we are required to now promote, develop and innovate domestic tourism. We need to look at how we rebuild our communities, urban and rural through tourism.

Mr. Dipak Haksar, Advisor to CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality shared his perspective on Safe Travel Chains and testing protocols.

The seminar had speakers from Europe, UK, USA, Texas, Israel, India and Indian States and had around 800 participants.

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