EM Najeeb, Chairman & MD, Air Travel Enterprises (ATE) and Senior VP, IATO, believes that domestic tourism and M!CE would be the first to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns having created an unprecedented crisis for tourism all over the world, including India, EM Najeeb says that a bigger question now is – what next? He adds, “All the source markets for India, like Europe, UK, USA and other important markets, have been affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. Hence, it will take time for the normal sea of tourists to once again flow all over the world.”
He expects normalcy to return by September 2021 and as far as India is concerned, the biggest market would be the domestic market. “We have so many states and attractions, and connectivity across the country via air, rail and road is very good. I am sure that opportunity lies in domestic tourism for the next one to two years. There is also an opportunity in M!CE tourism for Indian tour operators and the Indian hospitality sector, which was always going outside India. Now, however, it’s going to stay back in India,” Najeeb explains.
He also does not expect much inbound tourism to India this season. However, he adds, “India has handled the COVID-19 situation very well in comparison to many other countries. I am sure India is going to become one of the safest destinations after COVID-19. Also, we have handled tourists who were here during this time, very well. They have been treated and looked after. We have sent them back safely to their home destinations and they have left with good memories. I am sure that they will give priority and preference for their next tourism destination to India, and will come back. They will bring more tourists to India once the situation in their countries settles down and Government of India starts its visa-on-arrival facilities.”
Today, ATE is conducting brainstorming sessions with its managers and senior staff members on dealing with the crisis, and moving ahead with their plans to regain business.