The pandemic was a rude shock to many industries in India. Amongst these, the travel and hospitality industries were the worst hit. The damage was not only in terms of loss in business but also massive job losses, salary cuts, and also posed serious danger to the livelihoods and daily incomes of millions of Indians. Not just the established travel companies and agencies, but think of all those homestay owners, drivers, tour guides, on-site photographers, street vendors selling local handicrafts, all their families depending on them, some being the sole bread-winners of their family.
All these people, whose regular earnings were completely dependent on tourists visiting the sightseeing places and monuments.
Estimated job losses in India across hotels and restaurants, commercial air travel, tour operators, transport agencies and supporting sectors will be around 70% of the total estimated workforce, which is a staggering 3.8 crores. According to the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), the estimated losses for the industry due to COVID-19 are around 10 lakh crores. Several tourism, hospitality and aviation industry bodies wrote to the Indian government for interim relief to pay EMIs, instalments, taxes, and salaries to employees. According to Arindam Goswami and Nirupama Soundararajan, governments across the globe, in countries like Singapore, Indonesia, France, South Africa, UK and others supported their respective tourism industries with relief funds and bailouts worth millions of dollars, to help revive the industries and make up for the heavy losses in business. The tourism sector is a major contributor to the Indian economy, which is why it is expected that the government will take charge of the situation and aid in the recovery of the sector. According to PM Shri Narendra Modi, domestic travel would play a crucial role in the revival process and hence, states should work to revamp protocols for hotel infrastructure and other tourist facilities to prepare themselves for post-covid travel.
The travel and tourism industry is centered around the experience factor and interaction between human beings. An absence of that interaction due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has led to the dent in the sector. People feel apprehensive about booking hotels or planning trips because of the possible threat to their health. It is quite natural that in such situations, travelers have lost their trust in agencies providing tourism and transport services. Since a long time, there have been concerns regarding the safety and hygiene levels in hotels, vehicles, etc. and these concerns won’t be going away anytime soon. Although property owners, transport providers, tour organizers will do their best to ensure the safety of their customers and passengers, we as tourists and travelers can do our bit to support them if not patronize their services.
What we all need right now in these times of uncertainty is the reassuring personal touch. As tourism agencies, travel companies and smaller related businesses strive to comfort their customers with covid support services, all we need to do is to reciprocate with a kind word, a positive review, a recommendation or simply spread the word. If they have moved their business online, try signing up for their online services or purchasing a couple of their products. Look up for their referral programs if any, engage with them and help them grow their online communities. It has been a hard enough time for them and their families. We can create a world of difference by simply helping them sustain and survive.
Always remember to support small local businesses. Do not forget to maintain social distance, & stay safe.
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