Pandemic and lockdowns: Ruination of tourism in India

The travel and tourism industries all around the world have been slapped by the coronavirus pandemic to the extent of losses expected to be in trillions and millions rendered unemployed.

The declination could take place by 60-80 percent in 2020 due to Covid-19, placing millions of livelihoods at risk and a revenue loss of $910 billion and $1.2 trillion as told by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The pandemic has caused a 22 percent fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020.

The cascading effect of the coronavirus is crippling the Indian tourism and hospitality sector. India’s GDP is directly influenced by the ups and downs in the travel and tourism sector which comprises 10% of the country’s GDP.

Even as the domestic flights resume after over 2-month suspension due to lockdown, around 40 percent of the companies operating in the tourism and travel sector are standing eye to eye of the risk of complete shutdown over the next 3 to 6 months. According to BOTT Travel Sentiment Tracker, nearly 36 percent of such companies can witness a temporary shutdown.

The BOTT survey report confirmed that 81 percent of travel and tourism companies have lost their revenue up to 100 percent while 15 percent of the companies have witnessed it slide up to 75 percent. The BOTT survey was done online with over 2,300 travel and tourism business owners and company representatives across the country over a period of 10 days.

During the announcement of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package, the travel and hospitality industry was shocked and disappointed for no inclusion under the package despite being an important contributor to the country’s GDP and foreign exchange earnings.

Local tourism and traveler businessman from Rampur, Uttar Pradesh told Maktoob how the business came to a standstill from 15 March, “People had their tickets canceled right away as Arab countries had declared lockdown on the very 15th. We repaid every penny.”

Upon asking about the condition of other local/national/international businessmen in the tourism and travel sector is he said, “We are going through a very rough phase, it’s like everything has come to a pause. I have heard, how many big shot companies are firing their workers or cutting off a huge chunk of their salaries. Yes, in business we have to be very logical and concentration on profit and loss is the only goal, but how can you fire a person who has been a part of your company even for the smallest of time. They have worked hard and they need the money. Cutting off some part of the salary makes sense but firing them is inhumane. I haven’t fired any of my workers, we’ll face this problem together.”

People have been making inquiry calls regarding the international flights, their visas have been expired; for the people who came to India for holidays or work are stuck since the lockdown. Whatever little money they had is gone and they are eagerly waiting when they will get the chance to go back home for they have no work here. And whenever the lockdown eases in their respective countries the embassies will play a major role in renewing the visas. It depends on them if they will ask for a medical certificate from the countries the people will come back from or will keep the returners in quarantine to check for symptoms.

Saher is a freelance journalist based in New Delhi and she studies English literature at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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