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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Sanjay Datta, Chief — Underwriting, Reinsurance and Claims — ICICI Lombard General Insurance speaks about the trends and the future of travel insurance segment.

How would you explain the emerging trends in travel insurance sector in India?

The emerging trends in the travel insurance sector are mirroring with the mood of travellers in the COVID era. Customers are looking at local road-based travel, thus domestic travel insurance has picked up. Since most of the countries have not opened borders for international travel, that market is still slow. Travel insurance has been made mandatory by some countries and many other countries might be following suit.

What is the current market size of Indian travel insurance sector and where do you see this sector in the next 2-3 years?

As on FY ’2020, the travel insurance market constituted approx. 814 Cr and a growth of one per cent was seen in the overall market sector. 

Given the current scenario, the travel industry has seen a steep decline in past few months. Travel is slowly picking up with the commencement of domestic flights. The number of international travelers are still low and there are only over 20 countries in the air bubble agreement with us at the moment. The numbers will be limited due to the safety concern for some time.

However, with countries implying mandatory travel insurance for overseas travel and the increased awareness of the need of travel insurance, we are hopeful of treading on a path to recovery in the coming year.

The COVID outbreak has brought the world to a standstill. What does this mean for the insurance sector and your company?

The COVID outburst has impacted the travel industry immensely because of the travel restrictions applied by the countries such as closed borders, lockdown etc. Gradually the airlines have started in the domestic sector and also internationally with countries negotiating air travel bubble/ travel corridors with other countries. As a precautionary measure, people will be limiting travel and the travel will be restricted to business or student travel.

In future, more relaxation in the overseas travel is anticipated taking all safety guidelines into consideration. The domestic sector is likely to see a surge as many tourist destinations are luring customer with discounts and maintaining safety & hygiene.

As a result, the travel insurance is gradually picking up specifically in the domestic sector.

It is a good time for insurers to emphasize on the need for travel insurance. The insurance companies will have to keep giving added assurance to their customers that they can safeguard all the risks associated with the changed travel landscape in the pandemic situation. They need to keep evolving their offering. We are working on strengthening both our domestic as well as overseas offerings to give all confidence to customers that they are safe while travelling.

What impact the crisis will have on the travel insurance sector? What has been your response to the crisis?

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the travel industry has come to a standstill and has had a drastic impact on the travel insurance industry in the past few months.

Post the outbreak of COVID-19, the countries closed borders, the travel came to a halt across globe. With the number of cases in India reaching 90000 daily, a panic situation spread among the population confining people to their houses.

Now as the flights have resumed in the domestic sector and air bubble arrangement across nations, the industry is witnessing a slow recovery gradually. Slight surge can be seen in the domestic travel insurance as compared to the overseas.

This crisis had restricted all travel across nations resulting in a number of Indian nationals being stranded in different parts of the world. We extended our travel insurance including Covid-19 coverage for such individuals to safeguard their stay in the foreign land. While other insurers put a stop to issuance of policies when COVID was on peak overseas, we continued offering travel insurance. As an insurer we are constantly working to better our domestic as well as overseas offering in order to keep up with the changing times.

The COVID -19 has brought insurance sector in focus. What is your take on the opportunities and the risks that can arise for insurance business? Do you see the premiums going up as the number of claims may increase?

The COVID-19 has surely brought the focus on Insurance industry and at the same time has highlighted the need of insurance among the population. The current times have changed people’s perspective about insurance. Thus travel insurance penetration is expected to increase considerably in future.

The pandemic situation has certainly added to the increase in the number of claims but as an insurer, our focus would be to ensure the best coverage suited to the current scenario but also keeping in mind that it doesn’t leave a hole in the pocket of the customer.

Majority of the insurance was purchased by outbound travelers, now with the future of outbound looking bleak in the short-midterm, do you see an opportunity to tap the domestic travel segment aggressively? Are you planning to partner with any Airline or OTA?

Post pandemic, in terms of overseas travel leisure and tourism travel is bound to see a more dampened growth than business, student and other essential travel as travel resumes. The domestic travel is expected to surge in the near future. With airlines/ hotels luring customers with lucrative deals, people would be looking forward to taking vacations. The demand for travel insurance to cover against the unforeseen travel contingencies will increase creating wide range of opportunities to engage with the airlines and OTA. We already partner with some OTAs. We will certainly look at designing programs with other OTAs and airlines.

What is the impact on your long-term development strategy due to COVID-19? How are you tweaking your strategy to cater to travellers?

The global pandemic has been an unforeseen event that no one anticipated or was prepared for. Travel being one of the most affected sector, has led to change in short as well as long term goals specially designed around the current situation by the all industries. The strategies revolve around adjusting to the current needs. We are focusing on providing the best possible insurance solution to the customer given the COVID situation to assure them of protection at all times by designing covers and VAS services.

What sort of technological innovations/changes you have adopted in your services such as touchless services, minimum contacts etc -- keeping COVID 19 in mind?

ILGIC has always maintained an easy approach towards the policy issuance process with minimum contact. The customers can purchase policy on the website in one go. A 24 hour helpline number can be used for all travel assistance and claims. Many a claims can be settled on documents sent on email without need of any physical dispatch. We are working on proactive intimation of certain claims, where customer need not even approach us for claim settlement.

VAS services like doctor on call, road side assistance in self-drive travel etc. have been offered to give the customers a confidence that we are there with them at all times.

The insurance companies will have to keep updating the current offering in order to safeguard all the risks associated with travel in this pandemic situation.

Phillip Island Nature Parks has announced increased capacity at the Penguin Parade and the planned re-opening of the Nobbies Centre and Antarctic Journey, as we take the last steps towards COVID Normal and a COVID Safe summer.

The details of the announcements that come into effect at midnight on 22 November will bring all of the Nature Parks’ attractions back into operation seven days a week for the first time since March. Numbers of tickets to the Penguin Parade will increase from 50 to 500 per night with all venues operating under the organisation’s strict COVID Safe Plan.

Catherine Basterfield, CEO, Nature Parks, said, “Welcoming all Victorian visitors back over the past few weeks has been a thrill and we are happy to be able to increase the offering of more tickets to the Penguin Parade starting on 23 November. We’re also planning the reopening of the Nobbies Centre and Antarctic Journey in early December. This helps us to meet the demand of many who have been looking forward to coming back to the Nature Parks, and to also extend visitor stay for businesses on Phillip Island. Our community have been incredible in adapting to all of the changes across the year and our team is doing a wonderful job of maintaining a safe workplace for each other and visitors.”

The increased capacity at the Penguin Parade is a welcome move as the popular penguins have been in high demand with sell outs each night. Tickets for the Penguin Parade will be released in stages and are only available for purchase online. A new system of ticket holders being given a staggered entry time to the visitor centre is also being introduced to ensure physical distancing is maintained. All visitors will be at the beach before the penguins arrive.

The positive breeding season for the Little Penguins at the Penguin Parade is also positive news. Researchers report that, across the colony, most adult penguins have successfully raised their first two chicks which have left and gone to sea and are now looking set to start laying a second clutch of eggs.

The reopening of the Nobbies Centre and Antarctic journey, planned for Thursday 3 December, will bring the Nature Parks’ attraction offering whole again and also offers locals and visitors the chance to enjoy the ocean views, café, exhibits and to do some Christmas shopping. The team has been busy treating the Nobbies Centre to a complete makeover to ensure it is fresh for the summer.

All of the Nature Parks’ attractions are operating under a comprehensive COVID Safe plan to keep visitors and staff safe with capacity management, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures in place.

Online tickets are required for the Penguin Parade and are recommended for each of the attractions. Please refer to www.penguins.org.au for latest updates on visiting the Nature Parks.

“We are excited to be taking these final steps with our community. Victorians have done a wonderful job, and we are all looking forward to sharing a COVID Safe summer together and to be with family, enjoy nature and wildlife and relax after a very challenging year,” said Catherine.

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a new docuseries, “EMBARK – The Series,” inviting the public to experience the Brand and enjoy a front row seat to its highly-anticipated comeback. The docuseries kicks off with an “EMBARK NCL Spotlight Series,” two episodes showcasing the iconic Broadway and West End calibre entertainment found across the Norwegian fleet. The first episode invites viewers into London’s historic West End Garrick Theatre for a special reunion that brings “The Choir of Man” cast together for the first time in many months. The episode will include performances of guest favourites including “Save Tonight,” “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” “Hello” and “Some Nights” as well as an inside look at how the cast is managing through this historic time and how the talented performers are remaining optimistic about the future.

Richard Ambrose, Senior Vice President of entertainment and cruise programming, Norwegian Cruise Line, said, “Now more than ever, we are longing for connection. Entertainment unites us, allowing us to forget our worries, even if just for a short while. We have long been advocates for the entertainment community and are committed to providing high-caliber performances for our guests. While theaters are closed and gatherings are limited, we want to support our fellow performers while connecting with guests in a meaningful way. Through this exclusive offering, we showcase human resiliency and offer hope for a better tomorrow. In the end, we are in this together and that’s why we will all persevere.”

In addition to its residency on Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Encore, “The Choir of Man” has performed across the globe in iconic venues including Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and just announced that it will return to the Sydney Opera House for the third time beginning February 2021.  

After a half-year standstill, the travel and tourism industry has once again started taking baby steps towards normalcy. Globally, tourism and its allied industries have been bantered due to the pandemic. Although post resumption, leisure segment is picking up, segments like corporate and business travel are expected to take much longer time to recover. Outbound travel has restarted in a staggered manner within countries having air-bubble agreements. Destinations are now majorly banking upon the domestic tourism to revive the industry.

Despite the early green shoots in the tourism industry, still there is a major fear psychosis and fear amongst travellers to take a vacation. All hotels, destinations, airlines, cruise liners, car rentals, etc across the globe are following stringent SOPs and protocols implemented by their respective government’s and their brands. Despite all these measures, is your travel safe and secure as earlier?

This factor has made the travel insurance segment all the more important. Earlier, the travel insurance business usually witnessed outbound travellers purchasing it as an add-on or as a visa requirement. But, in the post-COVID19 era, every traveler will look at travel insurance as an utmost priority.

Speaking about the market size, as per a latest report on Travel Insurance Market published by Valuates Reports, the global travel insurance market size was valued at US$ 19.2 Billion in 2019 and is projected to reach US$ 39.3 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 17.4 per cent from 2020 to 2027.

Earlier, increase in many incidents, such as cancellations of flights, loss of baggage & essential documents, and medical emergencies were the major issues driving the travel insurance market size. This topped up with COVID-19 challenges, will boost the market size.

Asia-pacific Travel Insurance Market size is estimated to reach US$ 9,875 Million by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.1 per cent from 2016 to 2022. During the forecast period, insurance aggregators are expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.4 per cent. The Asia-Pacific travel insurance market is dominated by insurance intermediaries, as they are one of the most conventional and trusted distribution networks.

In India, the travel insurance market was valued at over US$ 80 million in 2018, exhibiting a CAGR of close to 12 per cent. Travel insurance market in India accounts for less than one per cent of the total travel insurance industry worldwide.

Sharing specific analysis on India market, the report further states that India possesses high market potential, but the travel insurance market is still in its nascent stage. Growing awareness of the significant benefit of travel insurance among the Indian population provides India with a significant opportunity to become one of the world's main travel insurance markets. The number of domestic travelers across India, in addition to foreign travelers, have also increased. It has been noted that each year 30 million Indians are subject to outbound travel, thus creating a significant opportunity for expansion.  

Travel insurance has now become far more advanced, with the support of technologies such as geo-location, application program interface (API), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and global positioning system (GPS), among others. Dev Karvat, Founder, CEO – India & Emerging Markets, TrawellTag Cover-More, says, “Our travel protection products are already available for purchase through a dedicated web portal for our clients, which has seen higher traffic in these times. Travellers can avail 24/7 telephonic assistance, for any emergencies. We have also activated WhatsApp based communication with clients and end customers to ensure seamless communication. Our Impulse platform is integrated with the portals & systems of our ecommerce and airline partners to offer optimal travel protection solutions. We continue to evaluate and invest further in digital interventions to improve customer experience and minimize physical contact with our clients and customers.”

COVID-19 Impact

Travel and tourism coming to halt has also deterred the growth of travel insurance companies. But, despite this degrowth, insurance companies have been successful in increasing awareness about the benefits.

Speaking about the impact of covid-19, Karvat, stated, “With current travel restrictions by most of the countries, the travel insurance market is as affected as any other segment in the travel industry. However, the awareness about travel protection has increased manifolds and we anticipate that more travellers will now opt for it while planning their trips. Tour operators and travel aggregators will now vouch for comprehensive travel protection products, as it would help the traveller to not only recuperate from financial losses, but also support them with assistance services during unforeseen events.”

Despite tourism regaining momentum, players across the industry is aggressively looking to instill confidence amongst travellers. In a bid to attract customers, Sterling Holiday Resorts has introduced ‘Holiday Insurance’.

Sharing his views on the current status, Vikram Lalvani – Chief of Revenue Management, Sales and Destinations, Sterling Holiday Resorts, says, “The last few months have been challenging for the hospitality sector, it crippled the confidence in travellers across the globe. At Sterling Holiday Resorts, safety & comfort of our guests, and sustaining their trust in the brand has always been our priority. Therefore, we had a major inclusion in our strategy to introduce a complimentary ‘Holiday Insurance’ benefit, with the option to opt-in at the time of booking/reservations. The insurance is provided by Digit Insurance and is a unique offering that takes care of trip cancellations, accidents, lost or delayed baggage, delayed or cancelled flight, missed connections, emergency accidental treatment and evacuation and even personal liability and bail bond.”

Outlook

Over the last couple of years, India has outpaced major markets to be one of the fastest growing outbound destination. With disposable income and majority millennial population, India is still estimated to be one of the top outbound source markets. With increasing awareness, travel insurance is now becoming a mainstream rather than an optional service.

Karvat said, “The travel insurance landscape is seeing a positive change as customers who would purchase travel insurance purely as an optional service are now opting for it as an essential requirement, as they recognise the risks of travel and the benefits of being covered. However, a comprehensive travel protection product to provide real time information about emerging situations across the world, medical evacuation, local hospitalisation support coupled with relevant travel insurance benefits is the need of the hour. We are witnessing a greater demand for such holistic products.”

Sterling Holiday Resorts have already witnessed a spike in travellers opting for the insurance. The group has also extended the insurance for groups and MICE travellers.

Lalvani added, “Sterling is the first in the segment and by the same virtue the largest resort brand in India to offer Holiday Insurance to its guests as an opt-in option as part of their booking. With an insured value of up to Rs. 3 lakhs per person, the insurance covers the guest from home-to-resort-to-home. Since the reopening of resorts, we witnessed that 60 per cent of guests who made reservations with us until the next year, have chosen to include ‘Holiday Insurance’ as a part of their bookings. Another major benefit of the Sterling Holiday insurance is that it is applicable for group booking including Corporate meets, Conferences and Weddings.”

Also, post covid pandemic, more destinations will make travel insurance mandatory for visa application which will be a major boost for the insurance players.

“The Indian travel insurance is slated to witness substantial growth in the next 2-3 years. An increasing number of countries are making travel insurance mandatory due to the current crisis and domestic travel will witness a boost with the government easing travel restrictions. As safety is a concern for everyone, travellers will be more aware of the risks and will opt for travel insurance. Travel assistance such as evacuation facilities, emergency medical assistance and real time information about emerging situations across the world will create a positive difference for the industry,” Karvat added.  

Airlines & hotels as a catalyst

One of the most interesting moves in the industry is now major airlines are offering complementary insurance to encourage patrons to restart travel without fear.

Etihad Airways has partnered with AXA to introducing COVID-19 global wellness insurance cover as part of Etihad Wellness, the airlines new health and hygiene programme. Guests who are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip won’t have to worry about medical expenses or quarantine costs.

Adelane Mecellem, Chief Executive Officer Asia, Middle-East, Turkey and Africa, AXA Partners, said, “At AXA, we are focused on improving the customer experience and wellness of individuals during these times. As such, we are proud to partner with one of the world’s leading airlines, Etihad Airways, and provide their extensive loyal travellers with new protection solutions when needed most.”

Also, Virgin Atlantic has introduced free COVID-19 insurance cover on all new and existing bookings. The policy is designed to complement existing travel insurance and provide additional peace of mind for upcoming trips.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said, “Our priority is always the health and safety of our people and customers and this industry-leading Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures customers can continue to fly safe and fly well with us. We believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield. It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognising the needs of our customers as we restart services.”

In another instance, Accor has also partnered with AXA to provide medical support to guests across the 5,000 Accor hotels worldwide as part of its ALLSAFE campaign.

“Welcoming, safeguarding and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do and who we are as hoteliers. This distinctive partnership with AXA which we have been working on for several months makes even more sense in today’s context. In an increasingly complex environment, our 300.000 team members on the ground will be able to assist our guests and ensure their safety during their stays, turning our hotels into shelters. This initiative combined with our ALLSAFE enhanced hygiene protocols, will be key to rediscover the Love of Travel in the 5000 Accor properties around the world,” added Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor.

Domestic potential

Globally, tourism boards and destination are restarting inbound in a phased and a restricted manner. The recovery rate of the inbound tourism is expected to grow at a snail’s pace. Domestic tourism is now seen as the formula for reviving tourism. Over the years, insurance players have been promoting domestic travel insurance which is still at a nascent stage.

Speaking about the domestic products and the way forward, Karvat said, “A number of domestic travel restrictions have been rolled back and several states have begun to allow inter-state travel. These changes have provided a significant boost to domestic tourism. We have developed benefits for new age travel trends such as staycations, domestic business trips and domestic cruise trips covering cancellations and delays. We are already offering our assistance services through our existing partners including retails travel agents as well as leading airlines and OTAs. Our long-term strategy of providing tailored solutions for our clients has not shifted. However, we have tweaked our short-term actions to focus more on travel assistance services for travellers during such distressful situations. We continue to work alongside our underwriter partners to explore the possibilities of designing products that will be relevant in a COVID world.”

Also, in terms of homegrown brands, Oyo earlier this year joined hands with ACKO General Insurance to provide complementary insurance package offers.

In a statement, Gaurav Ajmera, COO, India and South Asia, OYO, said, “The unique feature which has never been offered before in the Indian hospitality industry, designed in partnership with ACKO, aims to cater to the unexpected, unplanned and isolated situations, that our guests across 300+ cities in the country, that choose OYO as their preferred accommodation option, could face.”

The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), South Asia’s largest hospitality company, reported its Consolidated and Standalone financials for the second quarter ending September 30th, 2020.

Revenues grew 78.7 per cent QoQ to Rs. 256.7 crore while it was down 74.5 per cent on YoY basis. Average occupancy levels of domestic business improved to 32.3 per cent vs 20.5 per cent in Q1 while ARR also improved by 12 per cent QoQ to Rs. 5424 for the quarter. Major pick-up being witnessed in leisure destinations. New business initiatives like launch of Qmin, staycations in Q1FY21 yielded additional revenue of Rs. 135 crores in H1FY21. Ginger hotels performance also improved significantly with occupancy reaching to 51 per cent in Sep-21 from average of 31 per cent in Q1.

The company continued with its cost optimization measures and reduced total operating expenditure by 51.9 per cent YoY to Rs. 407 crores. The company secured significant lease rental waivers that led to cost saving of Rs. 92 crores for the quarter. Overall, the company reduced fixed costs reduced by Rs. 134 crores, while variable expenses declined by Rs. 306 crore (in line with reduction in the revenues).

As a result, consolidated EBITDA loss narrowed down to Rs. 150.3 crore. On standalone basis, company reported EBITDA loss of Rs. 88 crores. While July-Aug month saw average EBITDA loss of Rs. 50.5 crore per month, September month notably registered positive standalone EBITDA of Rs. 13 crores with the improved hotel business

Consolidated net loss came in at Rs. 230 crores (vs net profit of Rs. 71.3 crore last year) after adjusting for exceptional gain of Rs. 20 crores (forex related). Fiscal incentives provided by US and UK government also helped to reduce the losses of international business

The company raised Rs. 750 crores of long term debt during H1FY21 to maintain the liquidity. The gross debt now stands at Rs. 3462 crores with net D/E ratio of 0.68x.

The group has signed seven hotels across brands across multiple locations and states in India. Also, in Q2 the chain relaunched the city’s iconic Machan at Taj Mahal, New Delhi and launched its 1st outpost at Taj West End, Bengaluru.

Commenting on the Q2 performance, Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, IHCL, said, “The pandemic is an unprecedented event that has impacted the economy significantly, especially the travel and tourism sector. Though a gradual recovery is visible, it will take time to reach pre-pandemic levels in this uncertain environment. At IHCL, all our efforts are focused in executing the R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy committed to creating alternative revenue growth avenues, expanding its portfolio using an asset light framework, driving cost optimization and continuing to deliver value to all our stakeholders.”

The implementation of R.E.S.E.T 2020, a comprehensive five-point strategy, has provided a transformative framework to help the Company overcome COVID-19 related challenges, and has yielded positive results in the first half of FY 2020-21.

Giridhar Sanjeevi, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, IHCL, said, “IHCL has taken several measures to mitigate the financial impact on both profits and cash flow in recent months. With the ease of lockdown restrictions, we are seeing gradual signs of improvement in the second quarter; however full recovery will take some time.”

The travel, tourism, and hospitality segment, like every other segment, were caught unexpectedly into one of the gravest crises of this century. Though being prepared for such a scenario was never thought of, but overcoming this hurdle is the need of the hour. Majority of the governments are not so serious about revival of the travel and tourism sector. Hence, the industry is looking up at trade associations for the next course of action.

How successful have the associations been in putting forth recommendations before the Government? What role Associations are playing for survival and revival of its members during these challenging times and how important is it to be a part of any association while facing such a crisis were some of the pertinent questions brough up for the discussion at an e-conference during SATTE GenX titled, ‘Tourism Associations: Managing a Global Crisis’ organized by  T3.

Moderated by Carl Vaz, 1st National Vice President, Skal International India, the e-conference witnessed eminent speakers from across the global associations including; Pornthip Hirunkate, Vice President, Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA); Paul Leung, Chairman, Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association; Pronab Sarkar, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO); Sunil Kumar, President, United Federation of Travel Agents (UFTAA) and Pradip Lulla, President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) brainstorming on these issues.

Globally, many governments have directly supported their local tourism industry by providing exemptions and direct financial support. Hong Kong as a destination which has not seen any major growth in inbound tourism for over a year now has received reliefs provided by their Govt.

“Due to the pandemic, business for each one of us in the association is zero. In Hong Kong, we are facing challenges in inbound tourism for almost a year now. We are teaching the members how to stay strong and resilient during such a crisis. Firstly, we represented to the government for subsidies, next we have asked our members to diversify their business. Most of the inbound tour operators as a standby have entered the retail business, most of them are selling merchandises. The Government is also helpful, they have subsidized a lot of agents with money and funding and also various incentives like free coach parking, etc to our members. HK Government is also paying HKD 9000 per staff during the pandemic times,” Leung informed.

One of the major challenges during the entire lockdown period were the cancellations and refunds. A lot of tour operators and travel agents are in a fix as many airlines have not processed refunds.

Speaking about the role of UFTAA in helping the industry in this matter, Kumar said, “The role of associations has become increasingly relevant and important during the times of the pandemic. The kind of handholding we extend to our members makes a big difference in such a situation. Several associations required assistance from UFTAA and we have been instrumental in helping those associations and sharing materials with them. In several countries, there has been a direct financial support by the government, this includes payment of salaries to staff which is very welcoming. UFTAA is on the global panel of IATA, for three months every week we have global meetings to discuss issues. IATA has been able to chase airlines and refunds have been done by lot of airlines. Without online there is no way forward to promote tourism now.”

Post various representations and meetings, the travel agents in India have got some relief in the form of refunds and travel shells. Recently as decision has been made for the refunds by airline before March 31, 2021 and post that the airline would have to pay nine per cent interest.

Speaking about the challenges, Lulla said, “We left no stones unturned; we approached every department of the Ministry. Initially we got a lot of cooperation from Ministry of Civil Aviation, we connected them to IATA for the information on refund amounts. We thought that there would be some relief but unfortunately the order from our regulator was that refunds will be payed for only tickets issued during the lockdown, there was nothing issued during this period. We filed a writ petition on behalf of the travel agents. The outcome was that last week there was a special mention of travel agents, that refunds would be through agents to the customers in cash or as travel shell. A shell would be transferred to the travel agents if the passengers wont use. There is a limit on the refund and the airlines have to pay by March 31st.”

Apart from the airlines refund issue, another major challenge the industry is witnessing is the Government refunds. Government guest houses, luxury trains, Air India, etc., none of the refunds have been processed which is a pain point for the industry.

Sarkar said, “End of February, government had informed to hold foreign tourists and asked them to fly back. It was a major issue for us to transport them from different states and repatriate them to their home. The Government of India helped us in rescuing all the passengers. The main challenge is how will we survive as most of us are small and medium tour operators. Many countries helped their travel fraternity financially, but in India we have not seen any help. Our major issues were refunds; airlines, luxury trains, advances to hotel and safari parks, advances paid to government rest houses and guesthouses. None of the refunds were in place, we had to approach all the concerned authorities to help us out. We approached FHRAI for hotel refunds, most of them have been done. We are now waiting for government agencies to refund us.”

The Thai Government has introduced soft loans for the tourism industry with an interest rate of two per cent to revive their business. Close to 20 per cent of the Thai GDP is contributed from the tourism and hospitality segment.

Speaking about the measures which Thailand Government has taken for the sector, Hirunkate said, “we have over 1000 members with us and we are facing a similar situation with no travellers. We all work closely with other associations and Tourism Council, which consists of 13 main associations. We are closely in touch with authorities and also the Prime Minister. For three months, the government has paid minimum wages to each one of the staff, this move helped us to reduce costs. We try our best to help each member revive their business. Our government recognizes tourism as a major sector as it contributes 18-20 per cent of the GDP. Our Prime Minister along with his team visited and met with our association to hear our voice. The Government has setup soft loan for the travel industry, with nothing to pay for six months and interest of two per cent. TAT has been very active, and they come up with unique ideas to revive the industry.”

With the resumption of operations of the hospitality industry, there is a need to adapt, tweak and implement innovative ideas to help the industry accelerate recovery and get ready for the hospitality of tomorrow.

The Indian hospitality industry, over the last couple of years, has witnessed a healthy increase in the overall performance after a period of stagnancy. Demand outpaced supply in various major cities across India and further there were significant development taking place in the Tier II and III cities. Everything came to a standstill with the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown regulations have pushed the industry to almost a total shutdown. Hotels were shut down and further developments were put on halt. The industry is struggling with depleting cash reserves and flow.

What are the emerging trends in the sector today? How are hotels getting ready to meet customer’s expectation in order to get their confidence back? How are hotels adapting their business operations under the ‘New Normal’ but still remaining sustainable? How technology is supporting to achieve this? What will be the pace of development? Will covid-19 influence in changing specific structure or design of hotels?

In order to get the answers of the above-mentioned questions, T3 organised an e-conference during SATTE GenX titled, ‘Hospitality: The Future of Hotel Industry’. Moderated by Harmeet Singh Bedi, Senior Director - Hotels & Hospitality Group, JLL India, session witnessed eminent speakers from across the hospitality industry including; MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India; Abinash Manghani, CEO, WelcomHeritage; Satyen Jain, CEO, Pride Group of Hotels; Suhail Kannampilly, CEO, The Fern Hotels & Resorts and Rajneesh Malhotra, Vice President Operations & Asset Management, Chalet Hotels speaking their minds on the ongoing issues.

Today, the hotel industry is reinventing itself and are introducing various strategies to attract travellers. The utmost focus of each hotel is to maintain safety and hygiene

Speaking about the trends which have evolved during the post lockdown phase, Manghani said, “Safety is the priority today. We have seen a lot of interest in leisure in the last couple of months and these travellers are concerned about safety and the distance of travel. Our properties near large cities are showing huge demand. We are seeing a distinct trend of working executive working from healthy destinations. A lot of people are today given the option to work from distant locations and people are staying for three to four weeks in hotels and homestays. The top five-star city properties are focusing and investing into f&b delivery and take away options.”

In terms of markets, pure leisure destination is witnessing the major traction and as expected the city hotels are the ones which will be the last ones to pick up. “we opened up most of our hotels as soon as we got the opportunity from the Government. Currently we haven’t opened six of our hotels. Leisure demand has been quite encouraging, and demand in pure leisure destination is better than expected. Some of the destinations are clogging revenue as equal to pre-covid times. The leisure properties reliant on conferencing are at about 50-60 per cent of the pre-covid times. Business hotels in the bigger cities are struggling and are not able to cross the barriers. But, business cities in Tier II & III that are focused more on manufacturing, oil and gas, those hotels are doing numbers very close to pre-covid levels. Effectively the entire occupancy at the chain level in down, chain level we are witnessing a growth of six to seven per cent Month-on-Month in terms of occupancy. With the current trends continuing, we should reach pre-covid levels in April next year,” Kannampilly opined.

Various hotel chains have used their inventory as quarantine facilities, which has helped in generating a chunk of the revenue during the lockdown period. Also, hotels are introducing more technology to make the routine processes contactless. “Most of our metro hotels we were catering to the quarantine business for people coming back. We had put a very elaborate SOP system to maintain the hygiene. Our coffee shops have now opened up. Customer used places are frequently sanitized and we are strict about our mask policy. We have started digital check-in and checkout and payments have all gone digital. The contact points have been reduced as much as possible. In banquets we have social distancing SOPs in place, and we are strictly maintaining all protocols,” Jain stated.

One of the major challenges which the hospitality industry is facing is that the operational costs have gone up due to the new protocols and SOPs in place.

Speaking about the solution and also the introduction of technology, Malhotra said, “The prime concern on everyone’s mind is hygiene and safety. Chalet Hotels is tied up with Marriott and Accor, which are two global brands.  Both the chains have very extensive and elaborate SOP and protocol system in place. All the protocols come at an expense which was never factored in any of our budgets, however these are so important that none of us even thought about the cost. But now as hotels and restaurants have opened up, there is a significant amount of investment that has gone in ensuring that all these protocols are in place. Hotel industry was the first ones to adapt to the new normal very quickly. As an industry hotel industry is very creative and quickly adapts new technologies and process from other industries. We do come up with solutions very quickly. Technology has been a part of the hotel industry for the past few years.”

Tourism and hospitality industry as a whole have been one of the most neglected segments for the Government. This sector has not been able to get any major relief which was expected, despite being the worst hit segment. The industry has got green signal from the government to restart operations, but the small and medium players in the industry require working capital to restart businesses. “In terms of hospitality sector there is a wrong perception in the Government that it does not require any support even in the times of crisis. Hotel industry is a very composite sector, it has small and medium enterprises who are struggling for survival. Everyone speaks about developing the tourism sector, but when it comes to such a situation there is no core focus at all. There is no one ministry which can take care of this segment. The problems of the hospitality industry cannot be solved by the Tourism Ministry,” Bezbaruah said.

He further added, “In terms of liquidity, it is the Finance Ministry and the RBI which could have helped. We as an association did represent to the RBI with a whitepaper. We highlighted that we need working capital for the industry to restart and we need some relief for the industry which has come to a complete standstill. We asked for a special attention in the Kamat Committee, we made specific requests, but nothing has been considered. We have started a campaign, but we have realized that public representatives are very important, so we have approached various key decision makers to hear our voice.”

Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), shares Dubai’s plan of restarting tourism and the way forward

The destination has recommenced international MICE from October with all SOPs and protocols in place

Dubai has been one of the first destinations to contain spread of the virus and has successfully restarted tourism. The destination is once again witnessing demand from India market.

Dubai being one of the first destinations to restart tourism, what kind of hurdles did you face? How has the response been? Do you see a first movers’ advantage here?

As everyone is aware, the travel and tourism sector was among the very first industries to be impacted by COVID-19, with the repercussions being felt across all vertical sectors. However, today’s realities have opened up infinite possibilities, to fuel new thinking and accelerate collaborative solution-building with our stakeholders, and how we choose to respond, evolve and innovate together will set us on the path to pioneer the new normal for the future of global tourism.

According to recent analysis of travel metasearch engines such as Booking.com or Expedia, customers are looking for trips to those destinations that are among the most popular even in "normal" times. Dubai is mentioned as one of the top places people are looking for, so we remain optimistic that our visitors will continue to support the strong trajectory we started the year with. It’s an amazing feeling seeing the fun returning to Dubai with the reopening of attractions, facilities and amenities such as hotels, malls, beaches, public parks and water parks – of course all with stringent safety measures in place across the board.

Instilling confidence has been the priority for destinations. What has your approach been in instilling confidence and attracting travellers?

With the combined efforts of the UAE's leadership, government and tourism sector stakeholders, as well as Dubai Airports, Emirates Airlines and flydubai, our stringent safety and security protocols have been recognised globally by the WTTC who awarded us the ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ which definitely helps reinforcing Dubai as a “safe destination” to visit. In addition, and on a local level, we launched the ‘Dubai Assured’ programme in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development (DED) & Dubai Municipality, that certifies and recognises hotels and retail establishments, F&B outlets and attractions, that implement all public health and safety protocols for the prevention and management of COVID-19.

What are your quarantine policies? In addition, is the government supporting tourists who test positive for COVID-19 on arrival or during their visit?

Tourists are only required to quarantine if they test positive with COVID-19. All tourists, residents, citizens and transit passengers must present a valid negative PCR test on arrival. Tourists who show symptoms on arrival and test positive for COVID-19 after being re-tested must comply with a 14-day quarantine. The traveller will bear the cost of treatment and quarantine unless their carrier is Emirates or FlyDubai. Emirates passengers will automatically receive free global cover for COVID-19 health expenses and quarantine costs through to October 31, 2020 and FlyDubai passengers through to November 30, 2020.

The destination has also restarted business and MICE tourism. What are the protocols issued for the same? Also, any incentive for MICE during this period?

Local MICE activity successfully resumed on September 15 and international activity will be welcomed back from October 1. We have issued circulars on clear safety and security protocols that must be adhered to by the event organisers and attendees, which include steralisation of all public areas ahead of the event, social distancing, mandatory face masks and isolation zones. We also saw great success when we hosted the Ai Everything Conference in July, so with these systems in place, we are optimistic for an increase in events in the coming months.

Looking to retail, festival and leisure events, we are now gearing up for a busy season in the remaining months of 2020, with the Dubai Home Festival, Dubai Fitness Challenge, and our crown jewel the Dubai Shopping Festival to close out the year.

What are your plans for the upcoming IPL season? Are you looking to restart sports tourism? What will be the strategy and how will you showcase Dubai during this sporting season?

This is the first time that the tournament is being entirely played in the UAE and we are very excited to host it this year. This opportunity is giving us a chance to not only showcase our cricket infrastructure but how effectively the city has implemented standard operating procedures. Further to this, BCCI’s confidence in the UAE and Dubai in particular, is reassuring of our efforts to ensure that both, travellers and residents feel safe and confident in the Government’s efforts towards hygiene and safety measures. We are hugely grateful to host the IPL and we really do see it as a key enabler in positioning Dubai as a global destination for sporting events.

The ongoing pandemic have brought uncertainty and adversity globally for the past few months. While almost all industry verticals are facing unprecedented challenges, travel and tourism has come to standstill with closure of international borders, grounding of airlines, shutdown of hotels and other segments.

Although industry is witnessing a staggered opening, it is still not out of the storm and will continue to grapple with significant low demand. This brought the most significant proposition of instilling confidence among travelers to travel before stakeholders. Destinations understood this well and are reorienting their marketing strategy with all safety, hygiene, social distance and other norms prescribed by WHO along with respective governments.

To further rethink and take a deeper dive into the future of outbound tourism, T3 organised an e-conference during SATTE GenX titled, ‘Outbound Travel: Reinventing Strategy’. The panel was moderated by Mahendra Vakharia, Immediate Past President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) and witnessed eminent global speakers including; Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority; Vachirachai Sirisumpan, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi; Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation; Jabed Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh Tourism Board; Sanjay Sondhi, Country Manager, VITO – India and  Arvind Bundhun, Director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority discussing the way forward to woo international travelers.

Introducing the session, Vakharia stated that the outbound tourism from India is currently one of the fastest growing in the world and is pegged at around 27 million travellers. “This market is estimated to touch 45 million outbound travellers in the next couple of years,” He said.

Mauritius has opened its borders for the first phase of tourism with stringent quarantine policies in place.

Speaking about the plans, Bundhun said, “Our borders are still closed and will remain closed till October 31, 2020. In the past months, we have been repatriating our citizens. We have some scheduled flights from October 3. Our total load factor will be 5000 seats in October. We need to start from somewhere, we will start in a staggered manner as of now. We will open the destination in phases with protocol and policies in place. We need to take all necessary precaution, so that we don’t see a second lockdown in Mauritius hence we have stringent quarantine policy. We will look at reducing the quarantine days in the second phase.”

To further attract travellers, Maldives is now the first destination which has introduced a loyalty programme. Majority of the resorts in the destinations are now open for travellers, also Maldives is set to allow guesthouses to function from this month   

“On July 15, we re-opened our borders with full confidence and safety measures. Our top priority is the safety of our guests and staffs in resorts. Safaris have opened; operations are safe and will be contactless. Guesthouses will also open up this month, this ensures travellers can enjoy their vacation. During the COVID situation, travellers need to submit an online health declaration form submitted 24 hours prior to departure. All travellers arriving to Maldives require mandatory negative PCR report. All travellers need to wear face mask and sanitize; we also have a contact tracing app which needs to be downloaded. We have also received the safe travel stamp from WTTC. The air travel bubble between India and Maldives was the first in South Asia. We have commenced campaign in India, and we hope to recover and thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic. We have also launched Maldives Border Miles which is first of a kind loyalty programme in the world,” Mohamed added.

Thailand recently opened its borders for tourism, but the major focus was on long-stay travellers. In their first phase of reopening, the destination is welcoming travellers who are willing to stay for minimum 30 days.

Explaining the reopening plans and the way forward, Sirisumpan said, “We have been preparing since the lockdown for a proper restart of tourism. We are working on building up the confidence and implement safety and hygiene protocols in place. Life and business are now almost back to normal with the new protocols. TAT along with the Ministry of Public Health have come out with SOPs for tourism services and attractions. We are strongly maintaining communication with our tourists. Our objective is to keep Thailand top of the mind destination for Indians and keep good relationship with the travel trade. We first opened for essential travellers. The latest development is we have announced a special visa for long-term travellers, with a minimum quarantine of 14 days. This is the first phase and we will soon come up with new policies.”

Over the last couple of years, Indonesia has witnessed a significant growth in numbers from the India market, with Bali being the most popular destination. Indonesia is now promoting Bintan which is all set to welcome travellers soon.

“Bali is a very popular destination for Indians, and we have seen a growth of 25-30 per cent from India YoY. The Government has started a health and safety certification which covers all parameters. We are getting ready to restart tourism. We are also working on a seamless visa-on-arrival which will be totally online with a very little human contact. Holidays are all about happy experiences, so during this period we are working on more destinations. Bintan is getting ready for tourism which is close to Singapore. We are also working on creating quarantine facilities for travellers. We also do not have a direct flight from India, so we are depending on the connecting destinations and look at their transit facilities,” Sondhi informed.

One of the latest entrants in the leisure tourism segment, Saudi Arabia promises an authentic Arabic experience with a mix of culture and sustainability. The destination is geared up to attract Indian travellers post COVID. Also, the destination is eyeing VFR travel from India.

“Saudi is new in the game and we are very new to this industry. Our strategy is to make sure our offering is differentiated yet appealing and relevant for our audience. Saudi is the land of Arabia and it captures the largest landscape in the Arab peninsula. We have culture, adventure, sun & sea, there is a lot of mystic attractions for curious travellers. Everything is designed around an experience; we have kept everything authentic. We are having a long-term strategy to provide next generation tourism offerings where sustainability will be the key. India is one of the prime source markets, we have 5 million Indians in Saudi Arabia and we can tap the VFR segment,” Hamidaddin said.  

Speaking about the visa facilitation, he revealed, “We would like to facilitate e-visa scheme for Indian travellers soon. Peoples’ perception of Saudi Arabia is a little different and we are to blame as we haven’t explained the narrative as it is. We have a lot of work to do in terms of promotion. We are a very diverse nation with a lot of topography. Based on these purposes, we have identified 30 source markets that will make 90 per cent of our travellers and we have started communicating. Now, we will be more specific and will activate the trade and induct tour operators in each market.”

Sharing borders with India, Bangladesh has not been very successful over the years in attracting leisure traffic from India. Bangladesh is the number one source market for India with travellers coming for majorly medical tourism.

Speaking about the tourism preparedness, Ahmed said, “Covid-19 curve in Bangladesh is on the decline and the infection rate is coming down. Bangladesh is a land in South Asia with enormous potential for tourism. We are coming up with innovative strategies to attract tourism. In the coming years, regional tourism is the best source to revive outbound tourism. We need to introduce extended and connected packages. Bangladesh is the biggest source market for India for medical and shopping tourism. As short haul is the priority, we would like to showcase the unique attractions in Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh has seamless connectivity with India and the destination is also set to introduce e-visa facility for Indians. Ahmed added, “There is direct connectivity with 10 flights from India to Bangladesh. We are ready to hold MICE as well and we are in the process of easing the visa and coming up with e-visa.  Bangladesh is in the process of connecting with Indian tour operators and float special offers for Indians. We are promoting our destinations via social media in India. As of now most travellers come from West Bengal and North East. we have world class hotels in various locations.”

SATTE, South Asia’s largest travel and tourism exhibition, recently made a successful virtual debut with the launch of SATTE GenX, first virtual travel exhibition of the region. The inaugural edition witnessed the participation of 122 exhibitors and welcomed over 6600 visitors who got an opportunity to network and conduct business virtually. The inaugural ceremony witnessed the presence of a host of dignitaries from across the global tourism markets and was attended by over 2000 live audience.

Delivering the welcome speech, Yogesh Mudras, MD, Informa Markets India said, “This two-day virtual expo brings together some of the world’s leading destinations and companies, eminent speakers, knowledge forum and some unparalleled networking opportunities. Travel and tourism industry have been the most impacted sectors due to the ongoing pandemic. During these challenging times, SATTE with its new digital initiative, is offering an opportunity to the stakeholders of the industry to conduct business from the location of their choice in order to connect with the target audience. SATTE GenX is the industry’s broader plan to gradually reopen the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector. For SATTE GenX, we have got a strong support from international and Indian exhibitors, buyers, associations especially at a much-needed time and this speaks volumes of how this sector is keen to bounce back.”

Lauding the virtual initiative by Informa Markets in creating a unique platform for the industry stakeholders to connect and revive business, Prahalad Singh Patel, Minister for Tourism (I/C), India, said, “SATTE GenX with a host of international and domestic exhibitors is an attempt to help restart tourism global business. This virtual initiative is a new attempt and an out-of- the-box solution to help the industry. I would like to thank all the international tourism board and domestic companies participating in this exhibition. This is a good step for the revival of the tourism segment.” He opined that this segment has been hit the most and we are facing a major hurdle.

“I have been in touch with all stakeholders to understand various issues and are trying to solve them. Domestic tourism is a solution which should be explored for the revival. Our PM had mentioned that travellers should visit 15 destinations in India. We have successfully promoted each and every aspect of India on ‘Dekho apna desh’ webinar series. we are using digital media to the fullest to educate our tourists and promote destinations. We have arranged for guides in different languages at our monuments. To restart tourism, SOPs and protocols are in place with a focus on safety and security. With the Atma Nirbhar scheme, there has been a keen focus on MSME segment which will surely help the tourism industry players,” Patel informed.

With a core focus to make India a cruise tourism hub, the Ministry of Shipping, Govt. of India partnered with SATTE GenX for a cruise pavilion, where the ministry helped in promoting various ports and cruise liners.

Speaking about the status of cruise tourism in India, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister for Shipping (I/C), India said, “I am very happy to be a part of SATTE GenX. Since inception of our government, we always had a vision to develop cruise tourism in India. We have tried to bring all the stakeholders like port, immigration, tourism department, post health department, custom department, taxation bodies, tour operators, etc on a common platform. This has helped us to remove the bottleneck in the industry. Due to policy support, the number of calls by cruise has grown from by 120 in 2015-16 to 593 in 2019-20. We are developing world-class cruise infrastructure in Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Chennai. Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata have also the same facilities. Guaranteed berth, uniform single rate, online and on-arrival visa, biometric exemption on e-visa for three years, etc have already implemented. We want to put India on the map of global cruise tourism. SATTE GenX will play a vital role in boosting the cruise tourism segment. “

To develop tourism ties between India and Greece, the Minister of Tourism, Greece visited India prior to the pandemic. Greece is keen to tap the Indian outbound potential.

For India and Greece, travel industry is a very important segment which has helped economy grow. The pandemic has forced us to think out of the box and how we can realign practices with the new normal. The health protocols along with training and testing regimes at the borders will surely ensure safety of passengers and citizens. This has been a difficult year for everyone, initiatives like SATTE helps in bringing people together and is a platform to do business. I am glad that recently I visited India and it is a strategic market for us, which we are keen to develop. Greece stands ready as soon as conditions allow to open tourism and we would like to see people from India. We will always stand to help promote tourism between both the countries,.” Harris Theoharis, Minister of Tourism, Greece said.

Tourism being the most priority sector, Maldives has successfully opened up tourism. The destination has also recently welcomed 1000 daily arrivals.  

Abdulla Mausoom, Minister for Tourism, Maldives said, “It is a great pleasure to be a part of SATTE GenX. SATTE has been one of the most important exhibitions for us. We need to work together to overcome these challenging times. Even though virtually, this exhibition is very encouraging. We need to use such stronger virtual tools for networking for more efficiency. Maldives has a lot of challenges as our economy is dependent on tourism. We don’t have a domestic economy, so we had to figure our new ways. We have restarted tourism with the cooperation of industry stakeholders. We have made some progress in the last two and half months, many hotels, resorts are operational. Out of 51,000 beds in Maldives, 25,000 are operational. We have reached 1000 daily arrival target on October 2nd and this is a celebration for us. Exhibitions like SATTE will take us to the next level. We are not very sure of the path ahead, but this is an opportunity for us to do business in a new way.”

For the inaugural edition, Services Export Promotional Council (SEPC), an advisory body of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, had partnered with SATTE GenX for an exclusive pavilion facilitating the participation of private players.

Maneck Dawar, Chairman, SEPC said, We are indeed honoured to partner with Informa for SATTE GenX. In SEPC, we are committed to supporting the domestic services and our main focus is on the travel and tourism industry. We all know that it will take a very long time for this industry to come back. From SEPC, we have been representing for the tourism industry, the government has not done as much as should have done. We have created a pavilion at SATTE GenX and have provided platform for 75 exhibitors to promote themselves. While there are green shoots visible with people travelling and hotels opening up, there is lots to be done. It will take six to eight quarters for the industry to get back to pre-covid level. I assure all support from SEPC to the industry in promoting tourism.”

SATTE, with its new digital approach, created an opportunity to the stakeholders of the industry to conduct business from location of their choice and connect with the target audience.

MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India and Former Tourism Secretary, Govt. of India, said, “SATTE GenX is taking place in a very unusual time, but SATTE will play a very significant role in reinstating the industry. This will lay the foundation for the new journey which we will be taking ahead. There is no doubt that tourism will bounce back as it did after 9/11, SARS and Tsunami. It has been pointed out that the revival will be stimulated by the domestic tourism. There is no doubt that the small and medium players in the industry will play a vital role, but they are still struggling for survival. The MoT’s draft tourism policy has an ambitious plan of 3.6 billion domestic tourists in next 5 years. We need to create sustainable destinations and should promote tourism beyond the metropolis. We can create 1000’s of new destinations within no time which will create a different experience. We will need a lot of tourism infrastructure development and last mile connectivity. SATTE plays a big role in the promotion of regional tourism.”

Being a part of SATTE since its inception, Subhash Goyal, Hony. Secretary, FAITH said, “I am happy that what started as a small organization is today South Asia’s largest travel show and the most successful buyer-seller meet. Next, we want SATTE to be the world’s largest travel exhibition in the coming years. India is the center of South Asia, Australia, Europe and America and should be the Centre for trade exhibition. I am sure government will surely support in our revival process. The travel bubble agreements are also quite encouraging, and I am sure soon tourism will restart. We must learn to live with this disease. We have requested all states to have a uniform quarantine policy for a free movement. I feel proud that SATTE has become a force to reckon with and is playing a key role in reviving the Indian tourism sector.”

Speaking about the crisis Jyoti Mayal, Vice Chairman, FAITH said, “SATTE GenX with over 122 exhibitors from across the globe will certainly be a great opportunity for the travel trade fraternity to network and restart business and to overcome this crisis. A crisis which has made us think and restructure ourselves. I would like to reinforce that we have asked the government to support us by giving moratorium, rebates, reliefs, refunds from airlines, incentivise tourism, and all issues that are damaging us right now. The industry is in despair and is grappling to survive, and it is across the globe. Indian tourism and hospitality industry is staring at a Rs. 15 lakh crore loss and a potential job loss of around 3.8 crores. The government has not helped or supported to revive, but we are resilient, and we need to collectively see to it that each one of us survive.”

SATTE 2021 is now scheduled to take place from March 24-26, 2021 at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida. Delivering the vote of thanks, Pallavi Mehra, Group Director & Publisher, Informa Markets India, said, “On behalf of SATTE GenX, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and I am extremely grateful for Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Shipping, SEPC, National Tourism Organisations of various countries and all exhibitors and visitors for supporting us. Also, I would like to announce that we have rescheduled our physical show SATTE 2021 to March 24-26, 2021 in Greater Noida.”

 

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