Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (IC), Govt of India recently said that the pandemic has deeply impacted the travel industry and opening up of domestic tourism will help in boosting the economy post COVID-19. The need is to have coordinated and concerted efforts from all stakeholders including the Government of India, state governments, various ministries and industry. He added that if we are able to build consumer confidence, domestic tourism will pick up in no time.
Addressing the webinar ‘Tourism E-Conclave: Travel & Hospitality: What’s Next?’, organized by FICCI, Mr Patel said that the travel and hospitality industry is struggling to survive and the government should provide relief to the sector by way of considering reduction in bills and charges for hotels and other such measures. He added that there are barriers in opening up of the sector and urged the industry to share its recommendations to overcome them with the tourism and finance ministries and other departments.
Alluding to the importance of collaboration and synergy amongst stakeholders, Mr Patel said that he has been writing to Chief Ministers of various states to jointly work towards saving and reviving the tourism sector. He has also written to the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to open the tiger reserves with the requisite road infrastructure.
The Minister said that the need is to identify priority areas in the travel and hospitality sector in tandem with state governments for developing various circuits in the country. He added that with COVID-19, we are facing an unprecedented challenge but the industry has maintained a positive stance and is working towards the survival and revival of the tourism sector.
Mr Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner Cum Secretary, Tourism Department and Sports & Youth Services Department, Govt of Odisha said that COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to think about new tourism products and new ways of promoting tourism within the country. Domestic tourism will be a priority for us, especially for the next few years. He added that Odisha has finalized the road itinerary between Odisha and major cities of India to give a boost to tourism sector and will start promoting it in September.
Mr Dev said that the Government of India should work with the state governments to introduce long distance inter-state circuits. Also, luxury river cruises can be another area which can be developed for promoting tourism in the country. He added that it is important that we assure all tourists that our destinations are safe for visitors and to achieve this, all stakeholders need to work together.