During a webinar organised by Indian Institute of Management Lucknow – Noida campus and Centre for Marketing in Emerging Economies (CMEE) on ‘Tourism in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era: Challenges and the Way Forward’, eminent leaders and stakeholders shared their views and vision for revival.
The webinar was an attempt to discuss concerns of different stakeholders of tourism in the times of COVID-19, and to also understand the challenges and opportunities of the Indian tourism sector. Prof Archana Shukla, Director, IIM Lucknow, mentioned the importance of the tourism sector in India’s economy and called for a joint effort from different stakeholders to revive the confidence of tourists. Prof Satyabhusan Dash and Prof Priyanka Sharma were the conveners of this event.
Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, MOT, said that being fragmented, the industry is divided into hotels, transportation and tourism, but this is the first time that everyone stands together. She referred to work being focused on three key areas: how the pandemic grows, governance and need for change in promotional campaigns.
Mukesh Meshram, Principal Secretary – Tourism & Culture, Government of UP, spoke about the importance of digital assistance, while even highlighting the importance of eco-tourism, medical tourism, religious tours, organic farming and various initiatives with assistance from World Bank.
Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI, focused on the need for accurate and reliable information more than ever, and also the need to relieve the anxiety of the consumers by ensuring that a robust framework is developed for prioritising safety and hygiene.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, VP, FHRAI, expressed his concern that the industry has almost no consumer confidence as of now and is facing a severe economic crisis. The immediate strategy to be adopted is to address survival, which must be in the form of public-private partnership with support from the government in the form of restructuring of loans and certain tax waivers for the survival of this labour-intensive sector.
Sunil Suresh, Chief Marketing Officer, MakeMyTrip, said that since the lockdown has been lifted, there are a lot of people who are willing to travel, but signs of business travel are not visible. He mentioned how China, Japan and India have seen more business during the COVID-19 era as compared to last year. “MMT is taking several marketing initiatives such as ‘MySafety’ and to have an open conversation with the customer and try being as transparent as possible on all aspects of travel and safety-related information,” he said.
Rajni Hasija, Director – Tourism & Marketing, IRCTC, Ministry of Railways, said that they used this period for re-inventing themselves and restoring the confidence of customers. She said that IRCTC is focusing on inbound tourism during 2021, 2022 and 2023. Many awareness programmes are being launched and campaigns are run to create positivity and awareness among the citizens. Special touring packages and programmes were invented during this time.