New Delhi: With travel, tourism and hospitality among the sectors most affected by the pandemic and in urgent need of a helping hand for a rapid recovery, the Center has called on states to vaccinate tour operators, hotel employees, drivers and other industry stakeholders prioritize restoring confidence in the tourism sector.
âWe have agreed with state governments that immunization of all tourism-related stakeholders – be they drivers, tour operators, hotel employees, hotel management – should be taken care of as a priority so that we have a sense of confidence that all stakeholders in the tourism sector are fully vaccinated, âsaid Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh.
âIt will give a feeling of confidence to customers who want to go to a safe place. If he knows that all the employees and people he is going to meet are fully vaccinated, that will give him a feeling of confidence, âhe added.
As soon as the first cases of coronavirus were reported in early 2020, the tourism industry started to feel the heat. But as the nationwide lockdown was announced in March of last year, the industry has faced the worst crisis in its history. Millions of jobs were immediately lost. With no hope of a quick recovery in sight, a significant number of tour operators have had to close their stores.
According to a study by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), 14.5 million jobs were lost in the first quarter (April to June period) of fiscal year 21, 5.2 million during the second quarter and 1.8 million jobs in the third quarter, compared to around 34.8 million (direct) during the pre-pandemic period of 2019-2020.
The government has given the industry monetary, tax and compliance breaks, but these have been described as grossly insufficient by tour operators and operators, hoteliers and other relevant stakeholders.
Government relief measures include concessional loans under a credit guarantee system, postponement of statutory compliance deadlines and a moratorium on loan repayments.
âMaybe we did not meet the expectations of all stakeholders in society because there were a lot of expectations of additional tax breaks and monetary relief, but the finance ministry and all of us are in. ongoing dialogue and interact with industry. They take all the short-term measures announced, then all the measures to be taken in the medium or long term, âsaid the secretary of the Tourism Union at an event organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) and Council for the Promotion of Services Exports.
Due to the overall economic slowdown in 2020-21, the tourism economy or tourism direct gross value added (TDGVA) experienced a decrease of 42.8% in the first quarter; 15.5% in Q2 and down 1.1% in Q3, according to NCAER estimate.
Due to a significant drop in tourist arrivals and therefore tourism spending, during the pandemic, TDGVA is estimated to have fallen 93.3% in the first quarter of 2020-21 from its level in the same quarter of l ‘last year. It recovered slightly to decline 79.5% in the second quarter and 64.3% in the third quarter.
The tourism sector began to see green shoots and increased demand during the holiday months of October through December of last year with the sharp drop in Covid cases, but with the onset of the second wave of pandemic in April this year, activities practically came to a halt. Again. It is hoped that the situation will improve with mass vaccination and herd immunity, but many public health experts have warned of a third wave.