New Delhi: With introduction of a Covid-19 vaccine looking closer to reality, the Indian tourism industry has once again urged the government to finalise a roadmap for resumption and normalisation of international flights and quickly announce dates for restoration of e-visas and tourist visas.
The tourism industry has been one of worst-affected sector in the pandemic which has restricted movement of people. Tourist activities had come a standstill during the lockdown and with the resumption of economic activity during the unlock phases, the industry is seeing a ray of hope of normalcy returning to the sector as well.
In a representation to the government, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said that with the government now close to finding a vaccine for Covid-19, inbound tour operators are high on hope about resumption of their business.
“In this backdrop, we urge the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs to announce the dates for restoration of E-Visa and Tourist Visa and for normalisation of International Flights or prepare a road map with some tentative dates,” it said.
It added that such a move will not just send a positive signal to international tourists about India being ready and prepared to receive them but will also allow inbound tour operators to plan ahead for 2021. This will also give some encouragement to the pandemic-hit industry, which has had almost zero earnings and no meaningful help from the government, IATO said.
“To save the tourism jobs and the industry, it is imperative that the plan for inbound tourism should start as early as possible for which the Ministry of Tourism and the stakeholders should start international marketing. This can only be possible if the industry stakeholders know of the government’s plans of opening e-Visa and Tourist Visa and resumption of international flights, so that accordingly we can inform our foreign tour operators and clients and they can promote India as a safe destination well in advance,” IATO President Pronab Sarkar said.
The association said that international tourists take at least 3 to 6 months to commence their journey for their holiday travel to any destination, it is imperative that the government announced resumption of international flights soon.
“Once above decisions are taken, it will create confidence amongst foreign tour operators and foreign tourists and will send a positive message that India is ready to receive and welcome them. If no timely action is taken by us, foreign tour operators/tourists will look for other destinations and India may lose the chance for the rest of the winter and summer season of 2021,” added Sarkar.
IATO also requested the government that in order for the inbound tour operators to start global marketing campaign along with the Tourism Ministry, the government should immediately announce SEIS (Service Exports from India Scheme) scrips for the financial year 2019-20 which have been held up by the government at this critical time, when tour operators are in dire need of funds.