Jawaharbhai Pethaljibhai Chavda, Minister Tourism, Government of Gujarat in India, said today, August 18, 2020, that COVID-19 is the biggest challenge that the global tourism sector has faced to date and the government of Gujarat is ready to extend all necessary support for an India tourism revival.
Addressing a webinar, “Future of Tourism Post COVID-19,” organized by FICCI Gujarat State Council, Mr. Chavda said, “The economic revival measures announced by the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry have bought activities back to normal in a phased manner and we expect total normalcy in the next few months.”
Speaking on the economic packages for the tourism industry Mr. Chavda said, “The government of Gujarat has announced a special relief package to boost the state’s economy which will have a direct or indirect impact on the tourism industry.” The role of tourism in the Indian economy and the far-reaching effects of the epidemic has been felt on the economy. “I am confident that with the participation of all stakeholders, including companies and agencies of the tourism industry, we will be able to revitalize the sector and move towards the new normalcy,” he added.
Highlighting the impact of the pandemic on industry, Mr. Chavda said: “The challenges for the tourism industry aren’t over yet. Although, with the opening of the reservations for flights, trains, and buses, traveling has become possible again, the tourists are still apprehensive about their safety and are avoiding travel as far as possible.”
He further said that it becomes the responsibility of the tourism industry to ensure safety of the tourists. “We need to gradually reduce travel restrictions. The Central and the state governments along with the industry associations have issued various guidelines and we need to ensure that all norms are followed,” he added.
Mr. Chavda said that the state government is planning to develop Gujarat as an attractive tourist hub and create more employment opportunities.
Ms. Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that the first step towards normalcy is to create a perception of safety among the travelers. “The most significant enabler for times to come is the safety factor- people have to feel safe to travel. It must be a joint effort of not only the government institutions and travel associations, but the industry and citizens too,” she added.
Ms. Brar said that every state has different protocols related to COVID-19. “In order to create ease of travel, there is a need to have harmonization of rules. We are already in touch with various states and once we align travel rules to one or two common systems across the country, people will feel more inclined to travel,” she said.
Ms. Brar added that the domestic tourism will open first, and we need to be ready for that. “We need to look at creating short travel itineraries. Most of the states are in the process of curating one or two night itineraries,” she emphasized.
Mr. Jenu Devan, MD, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd., said, “The tourism industry must come forward and promote local tourism in Gujarat.”
Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Past President, FICCI said, “The tourism industry needs the support of the state and the central government to survive.”
Mr. Sunil Parekh, Co-Chairman FICCI, Gujarat State Council, requested the government to provide salary support towards people from the industry, like travel agents, tour guides- who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic.