Jatinder Singh Taneja, Vice Chairman, PATA India Chapter, says that while India is slowly opening up for business and ensuing safety guidelines are adhered to as it does, recovery will be at no different a pace than that of the rest of the world. In other news, the Chapter is going to get working on webinars and its Update & Outlook Meeting with MOT.
Calling the COVID-19 crisis an unprecedented challenge that has brought the world and the tourism industry to a standstill, Jatinder Singh Taneja echoes the sentiments of many. “It is an unreal, unimaginable and an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 has impacted the tourism industry like no other event in history, bringing it to a point where the business is nil. In simple words, the industry is going through its worst time. Even as countries slowly open, they are preparing themselves, adjusting to the new normal of living with the virus and taking all precautions and preventive measures. The world is still fighting the pandemic, and only time will tell when we’ll be able to recover from it entirely. An ideal situation would be to have the vaccine as soon as possible,” he says.
Taneja also believes that the comeback for India from this crisis will not be any different from that of the rest of the world. “Operations are being driven by focusing on preparation, precaution and prevention. However, with cases still on the rise, the process and path to semblance for travel and tourism businesses is going to be slow,” he adds, and pegs domestic tourism as the first segment of travel to resume, followed by business travel and finally, international tourism. “However, I feel that the world would open in stages and not in one go. It would most likely be a slow process where countries would open one by one, based on mutual agreements. Also, travellers should expect travel restrictions in certain countries, including COVID-19 tests for visa approvals. I believe that inbound business may start trickling in after October/November 2020, but it depends on India’s situation in the coming months,” he shares.
To make India a safe and secure destination, and to win the trust of the tourist again, we need to open up our tourist attractions, destinations and monuments with clear guidelines and rules, the Vice Chairman opines. “These guidelines would help us ensure our tourists’ safety and help us control the spread of COVID-19. Business and strategy will inevitably be focused on safety, security and hygiene. Airports, railways, surface transport and hotels will have to provide a safe environment for visitors and win back the trust of tourists,” Taneja claims.
A helping hand awaited?
Though he is expecting some relief from the government, Taneja says, “Unfortunately, and for reasons unknown, the travel and tourism industry didn’t get any support from the government at all. It was extremely disappointing for all stakeholders. Now, all involved are trying their best first to survive, and then recover from these difficult times.”
Tiny steps but a big leap
Commenting on the way forward and the steps they are taking to empower members, Taneja says, “I believe that in the last few months, along with the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ was also going on where there was a flood of information floating around. Yet, there was a lack of clarity and certainty about anything. Though far from normal, things are now getting a little better – airports have opened again, domestic flights are operational, hotels and restaurants are opening their doors again. These are the small steps that would help the industry recover. PATA
India Chapter has already planned and is starting with the EC meeting. We will also hold webinars and an Update & Outlook Meeting with Ministry of Tourism from this month onwards.” .