With tourism not being included in the Government’s Relief Package the industry has expressed that it is in a state of shock. The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) states that Adventure Tourism is the only economic activity, which brings income to the remotest parts of India - where the poorest segments of Indian society live.
In a statement Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, ATOAI said, “The condition and the mood of the Travel Industry is grim and despondent today. We all know that the pandemic has cast a gloomy spell on the world as economies of almost all countries around us are crumbling. The situation in India has been no different, but rather has been worse than many because our lock down was announced much in advance, which while surely kept the COVID cases from growing at an early stage but also halted our businesses completely.”
Tourism contributes almost 10 per cent to the GDP of the country and is one of the major Employers of both skilled as well as unskilled set of people. The Hospitality and Tourism industry generates over Rs. 15 lakh crores and supports over 43 million jobs translating to almost 9 per cent of its total employment. As per a KPMG Report, COVID-19 will cause a potential job loss of around 38 million, which is around 70 per cent of the total workforce of the travel and tourism sector. This, in itself, is a worrying figure – one that can cause irreparable damages to our economy if something is not done immediately to alter the situation.
Kumar said, “Travel is a people’s industry. The premise of our service is “personal touch” be it in the form of greeting at the Hotel or assistance in an adventure activity. So just try to fathom a travel scenario with social distancing and many other norms newly implemented is extremely tough. Yes, the times ahead are tough for all of us but even in this dark scenario, we were all hopeful for some kind of silver lining to come in the form of Government Relief Package for the Travel Trade Industry and stand utterly disappointed with the step-motherly treatment that has been shown to us.”
Speaking about the Adventure tourism segment he added, “The collapse of this industry will spell a tragic future for these most downtrodden segments of our society who otherwise have a subsistent livelihood from most marginal farming, especially in the mountains. We are all aware that the coming months will stay dry for the tourism and hospitality industry with no cash inflow and negligible fresh bookings and travel plans. Things can only move towards being normal once there is either complete eradication of the virus or a vaccine that can save us from its effect – both of which does not seem to be anywhere on the horizon at the moment. Thus, the only hope is the relief from Government’s fiscal package. We have not lost hope and are trying, together, to be heard and be at the receiving end of a relief or grant, which will help the Travel and Tourism Industry to sail through this difficult time.”