‘Must keep our faith in the government’

Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip.com, along with other OTAs, met tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel and discussed revival measures, including safety & security at hotels and destinations, homestays and guest houses as alternative stay options, reducing the GST, waiving off TCS, and virtual tours to engage out-of-work guides.

Nisha Verma

Rikant Pittie, along with other OTAs, apprised the minister on why hotels in the country should be opened, and the need for hygiene & safety provisions for people who’d want to resume travel.

“A lot of discussion happened. We requested that the entire industry wants hotels to be opened, because that’s one thing where tourism will really start. The minister is also quite focused on doing that and has been getting similar requests from other industry members,” Pittie informed.

The delegation discussed other issues as well and elaborating on them, Pittie said, “We deliberated on how we can actually help in getting a safe and secure atmosphere for the people who would want to get into the domestic tourism market, especially for pilgrimage or religious tourism, which was one of the major domestic travel segments even before the pandemic. We suggested that there should be certain norms that could be followed when people visited such places, including set timings, barcode system for identifying who is entering, proper sanitisation before entering the facility, and the use of mask and gloves to be made mandatory.”

He added, “We have also requested opening of government guest houses, where sanitising can be done every day, as today people would be more interested in living in a homestay facility, a small hotel or even a guest house, as they are considered secure. People can be asked to maintain social distancing at such properties, by the government as well.”

Scope for tour guides

One important issue the delegation brought up was of tour guides and the possibility of having virtual tours.

Pittie shared, “We talked about tour guides because many of these guides are sitting at home as they don’t have
anything to do; they are freelancers and are not employed by any tour company. Hence, we have requested the government to consider the possibility of virtual tours, wherein the tour guide can go to tourist places or monuments and guide people around virtually, instead of having them physically travel to these places. They can take a group live in small batches, on any one of the digital platforms available.”

When asked about the minister’s response on the suggestions, Pittie said, “The Ministry is already working on suggestions given by us and other stakeholders. We must keep our faith in the government that they would do something good. The focus is on domestic tourism currently. In fact, we were called by the MOT to have a meeting with the Minister, and this is one of their own initiatives to understand the real pain of the end user. We should
appreciate this.”

 

Other suggestions

The delegation also spoke to the government about deferring of TCS entirely, which is a long-standing demand of the entire industry. It also delved on the topic of reduction of GST, especially for hotels, as customers travelling now may not necessarily be as economically sound as they were earlier, owing to the crisis, but would be looking to travel in a
safe environment.

 

 

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