Rajan Sehgal, Managing Committee Member, TAAI and Chairman, Indian Golf Tourism Association (IGTA), claims that with international travel restrictions in place, golf tourism will be in demand post-monsoon and India should look at promoting it. He adds that even film tourism holds great potential as a driver for domestic travel.
Though the industry was caught unawares by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rajan Sehgal says that all associations have been meeting regularly to gauge the way forward. However, he claims that as much as anybody says that domestic tourism would pick up, “I can assure that domestic tourism will not start before October.” Sehgal, who has been focusing on niche tourism products like golf tourism, film tourism and heritage tourism, has also been conducting motivational webinars for TAAI members pan India, as Chairman for Skill and Education Committee of the Association.
Sehgal believes that domestic golf tourism will be in great demand once the monsoon season is over. “The first thing to open under Unlock 1.0 were golf courses. In Delhi-NCR, all golf courses are full because they offer an open space, are close to nature and help maintain social distancing. I believe that Indian golfers who once travelled to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam for golf tourism will now travel within India,” he says.
Sehgal has also had a discussion with the Advisor to Governor of Kashmir, requesting them to open travel and tourism at the earliest in the Union Territory, attracting visitors from across India.
He says that even Ministry of Tourism realises the potential of golf tourism, and hence did a special ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ webinar on golf tourism and approached IGTA for it. “We did the webinar titled ‘Golfing tour of India’, which was appreciated across the country and even outside,” Sehgal adds.
Another niche segment that he believes should be looked at is film tourism. In his role as Co-Chairman, Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, Sehgal organised a virtual film tourism conclave that was attended by movie directors and MOT representatives. “Since it’s not easy nowadays to travel overseas for shooting films, it’s the right time for Indian states to tap this opportunity because movies won’t be released in theatres and people would be streaming and watching them at home, making it more likely for them to choose domestic destinations to travel to. It is time states promote their film policies and allow single-window clearance for film shoots. Most of the shots are not taken in studios, and the crew would prefer hotels and resorts at nearby destinations to maintain social distancing,” he shares.
Commenting on the restriction on weddings and events to only 50 Pax, he says that they have asked the Ministry of Tourism to increase the number and allow hotels with space to accommodate around 250-300 people, and a minimum of 150 people while maintaining social distancing.
Otherwise, in the upcoming wedding season, it will be difficult, he adds. Sehgal points out that there is also a need to have synergy between stakeholders, the Central government and the states. “If a traveller is going from Delhi to Uttarakhand, there should be a separate lane for tourists at borders, toll plazas or barriers. There can be stickers on tourist vehicles with travellers having confirmed hotel bookings, and they should be let through a separate lane. It would motivate and lend confidence to travellers who are already scared because of different restrictions in different states. In fact, the government should think of reimbursing tourists when they are required to take a COVID-19 test before crossing borders because if it is done for a family of four, it will only add to the already-high cost of hotel and GST,” he suggests.