In a major step to ease the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, from May 25, the India air ban lifted for domestic flights. This had gone into effect since March 25, however, it was followed by a lockdown that was launched to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The lifting of the domestic flights ban will be in a phased manner. However, there is no indication of any move yet to start international air services, despite pleading from some of the carriers.
In the next few days, some domestic airlines will announce their new schedules with the India air ban lifted.
To help accomplish filling of those flights, the Director General of the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India, Ms. Meenakshi Sharma, has suggested that India should be promoted as a safe tourist destination. She said that the government is working towards certification of safety measures for all tourist destinations in the country.
Addressing the webinar on “Rebooting Indian Travel & Tourism” which was organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ms. Sharma said, “We must also promote international tourism through constant interaction with the tour operators based abroad.”
Ms. Sreya Guha, Principal Secretary of Tourism, Art & Culture for the Government of Rajasthan, said: “Rajasthan as a state has started promoting its destinations digitally. At a time when people cannot visit us, we must take them on virtual tours. Rajasthan is ready with SOPs for the monuments, and the moment they are allowed to open, they will do so in a staggered manner.”
“We must be able to sell ourselves as a safe destination, ready to welcome visitors,” added Ms. Guha.
Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner cum Secretary Tourism Department and Sports and Youth Services for the Government of Odisha, said: “We have formed a committee to look after the crisis of the tourism industry in Odisha. We plan to give a lump sum amount to photographers and guides who are directly dependent on tourism for their livelihood.”
“We are promoting homestays, aiding boatmen, and would like to invite hoteliers to invest in Odisha,” he added.
Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Past President of FICCI, Chairperson of the FICCI Tourism Committee, and Chairperson and Managing Director of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said, “Tourism has the potential to be the torch bearer for re-igniting the Indian economy.” She also said that a small support to this industry will go a long way.
Mr. Dipak Deva, Co-Chairman of the FICCI Tourism Committee & Managing Director of Sita TCI & Distant Frontiers, said: “Different countries will approach tourism differently. To promote tourism in India, we must promote states like Kerala and Goa as destinations.”
Mr. Deep Kalra, Co-Founder & Group Executive Chairman of MakeMyTrip, said, “Standard set of protocols should be followed in terms of hygiene,” and added that hotels are the backbone of the tourism industry and need to start functioning at the earliest.
Mr. Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General of FICCI, along with Mr. Ankush Nijhawan, Mr. Naveen Kundu, Mr. Souvagya Mohapatra, Mr. Vikram Madhok, Mr. Ashish Kumar, and Mr. Rajiv Vij also shared their perspectives on the tourism industry.