Ready for a roaring recovery

G. Kamala Vardhan Rao, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, speaking at the 36th IATO Annual Convention in Gandhinagar says, vaccination will play a pivotal role in giving confidence to international tourists visiting India.

Nisha Verma

Kamala Vardhan Rao, Director General, Ministry of Tourism believes that vaccination will play a major role in taking India towards the road to recovery. “The most important thing is vaccination. Hence, safety protocols must be followed, only then will there be confidence among the tourists. Tourism develops only when people travel, which in turn happens when there is confidence and the safety levels are increased. I believe the kind of vaccination drive that is taking place in the country will instil confidence in tourists in the country and they will be visiting,” he shared, on the sidelines of the IATO Annual Convention in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Domestic boon
Claiming that domestic tourism has seen a rise during the pandemic, Rao said, “There is hardly any availability of rooms in hotels, especially at tourist spots. We have more than 165 notified destinations in this country and over 80 per cent of the hotels are running at more than 80 per cent occupancy, particularly this season. Despite not having as many foreign tourists because of the ban on international travel, domestic tourism has picked up in a big way, and 80 per cent of the hotels are occupied.”

Not a big scare?
Rao claims, “If you see the cases of Omicron internationally, it is infectious, but it’s not as fatal as the delta variant, which we have seen earlier, and it is the only ray of hope. We are sure that this will not be there for a long time. We believe that by February to March we will see brighter days. According to surveys and WHO, Omicron is infectious, but the cases of hospitalisation are low, and thus the stress on the health sector is not as much as it was in the last two years. We are using our digital platforms, publicity material and divisions to inform people across the globe. In fact, at more than 20 Indian embassies, we have placed our officers to deal with the tourism sector. Hence, these people are trying to propagate whatever steps we are taking in this country. We are telling people internationally about the health protocols we are following now.

Constant monitoring
While Rao realised the concerns of the inbound industry over the Omicron scare, he said that the government’s intent at all levels, including at MOT, is to monitor the daily number of cases and the vaccination, which has crossed over 100 crores a long time ago. “We are looking at all aspects on a daily basis and trying to see a way towards opening the aviation sector. A few days ago, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, mentioned that our relaxation of international travel purely depends on the infection rates due to Omicron. Hence, daily monitoring is happening to assess the situation,” he added.

In addition, he informed us that G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of Tourism, Culture & DoNER, as part of the loan guarantee scheme for guides and tour operators, was keen to give out cheques, realising the impact the pandemic had on the sector.

Saying that the takeaway from the convention should be confidence and courage, We should not lose these two things. Let’s be strong as good days lie ahead. While the inbound season this year is lost, next year, hopefully, we will have a roaring recovery in the tourism sector of this country,” he concluded.

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