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Domestic tourism, key driver, session on travel, hospitality & tourism told
Saturday, 07 November, 2020, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Rupinder Brar, Additional Director-General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has said that while the revival of international tourism would take some time, the focus is to promote domestic tourism, which will be the key driver of the tourism sector in India.

“Addressing a session on 'Future of Travel, Hospitality and Tourism Industry and The Way Forward' organised by FICCI, Brar said that the pandemic has deeply impacted the travel industry and there is a demand shift in the kind of products people will be looking at post-Covid-19. This requires organised and concerted efforts from all stakeholders including the Government of India, state governments, various ministries, and industry,” she added.

Domestic tourism has immense potential and India has not done enough. "This is an opportunity to leverage a side of the business that was growing. People have been travelling out of India but it is time for us to evaluate ourselves and put India first by promoting India as the unique destination for wellness, Ayurveda, yoga, pilgrimage as well as adventure," said Brar.

She added that confidence-building methods should be the outline for tourism administrators across the country. "Travellers would require reassurance about health and safety standards during travel and stay, which in turn would require a healthy combination of outreach and innovation as they adjust to the new normal," said Brar.

"As a sector, we have witnessed massive developments at airports, road networks hospitality units, boutique resorts and homestays. We must look into the supply side of the options we have, which can tickle the demand of the domestic traveller," added Brar.

A comprehensive tourism recovery plan is required for promoting domestic tourism at the local level and there must be a harmonisation between what is offered to the guest and what they receive, she said.

Speaking on international tourism, Brar said that the slow easing of international travel restrictions in future will result in intense competition as countries will target the same markets. This calls for an aggressive strategy focussing on the intense use of technology, promoting that India is a safe destination.

Suman Billa, director, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Technical Cooperation and Silk Road Development, said that we have chosen global experts to look at the travel forecasts, who believe that the recovery of the tourism industry will only take place by the end of next year or early 2022. "There is low consumer confidence and banks are becoming extremely cautious in rolling out loans to the tourism sector, however, we are witnessing consolidation in businesses that will accelerate as we move forward," he added.

"We need to understand that consumer preferences are changing rapidly and look at domestic demands being the strong pillar for the recovery of the economic sector. We need to take up policy decisions with the government so that to revive the tourism industry," said Billa.

Professor Chekitan S Dev, Cornell University, SC Johnson College of Business School of Hotel Administration, said that the travel, hospitality and tourism industry will recover fully and get back to where it was but will take a longer period. He said the best we can do as we emerge from the reset that has been forced upon us is to imagine a new normal, perhaps a better normal. "Innovation promises to be the biggest opportunity for the travel and tourism industry and new methods of innovation will help us sail out of this pandemic," added Prof. Dev.

Dipak Deva, co-chairman, FICCI Tourism Committee, and MD, Sita, TCI and Distant Frontiers, said that every company in the hospitality and travel sector is trying to reimagine how to draw in customers and innovate ways to bring in guests. Liquidity is an issue and consolidation will take place gradually with an interesting phase ahead of us.

Dilip Chenoy, secretary-general, FICCI, said that India has been a great tourism destination and we want to collectively make it better.

The webinar also featured an interactive session with FICCI Tourism Committee members -  Rakesh Bansal, CEO, Amadeus India, a Bird Group Company; Siddhartha Dasgupta, president, corporate affairs, Oyo Rooms; and Prateek Hira, president and CEO, Tornos Destinations (I) Pvt Ltd.
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