There is little chance of inbound tourism in the immediate future, considering the spike in cases in key gateway cities. Air bubbles present an opportunity but not necessarily for tourism; these are more essential travellers who have to commute for family or business reasons. What does this scenario hold for the large community of inbound tour operators? We asked the IATO president, Pronab Sarkar for his strategy to build upon our tourism again, post COVID 19. Following are the excerpts:

“Considering the present Covid-19 Pandemic situation in India and around the world, visualising the recovery from the pandemic situation is going to be a long way. It is, therefore, too early at this stage to talk about resuming Inbound Tourism in India.

 As Tourism is for luxury, pleasure and entertainment, therefore, we feel, no one shall try to take risk against Covid-19, especially for the elderly and high spending category. 

 To return to business in minimum period for inclusive growth when it is conducive to travel, some inputs that are essential and most desirable would include the following:

 To create confidence among foreign tourists with the following: –
a) First step should be to open Domestic Tourism to showcase that tourism in India is normal. 
b) All state Governments to follow one country-one rule for opening tourism activities – by air/rail/road. There should not be any quarantine period or minimum stay compulsion orders.
c) Implementation of proper SOP’s for hotels, transport, monument entry, clean and hygienic city environment specially at tourist spots with necessary social distancing.
d) Declare 2021 Domestic Tourism Year for promotion of Domestic Tourism.

Emphasis should be on Marketing India Tourism products in
International markets by the Ministry of Tourism as per following: –
a) The Dekho Apna Desh Webinars should be shown in respective languages in different selected countries abroad. It shall help keep Destination India memory fresh and the recall value of brand India Tourism. This is highly cost effective and should be distributed through India Tourism Offices, Air India and Indian missions abroad. Indian tour operators shall encourage their FTOs to watch these Webinars which are the cheapest marketing tool. These webinars need to be converted in main foreign languages if possible and uploaded on Incredible India website and social media for wider international coverage and promotions.
b) Electronic and print media promotions starting with both the source and emerging markets.
c) Make advance strategies for organizing road shows in major source markets and participation in international travel fairs/marts along with industry stakeholders, in anticipation of their being held as and when.
d) Ministry of Tourism should support the travel trade by liberalising the MDA scheme for financial help, to enable the stake holders to undertake aggressive marketing and promotions post Covid-19. This should be announced at the earliest.
e) To create new video promotions showing India is ready to welcome tourists in new normal.

Once borders are open, we should prepare for the following: –
a) Government of India to resume issuance of E-visa and normal visa for tourists.
b) All airlines to create confidence building promotions about safe air travel including pure air circulation in the cabin while travelling.
c) Introduction of the New Normal for International travellers: –

i) Passengers should carry Covid 19 negative certificate from the country of origin which should not be more than 96 hours old. If the same is not available, then instant Covid -19 negative certificate to be issued at the airport, before boarding the aircraft.
ii) Facility of Instant Covid -19 test upon arrival in India.
iii) All negative certified passengers should be allowed to enter our country without any quarantine clause.
iv) All hotels to allow check-in on being provided the same negative certificate.
v) All hotels to follow strict SOP’s for safety of the tourists.
vi) All Tour Operators and Transport operators to follow SOPs shared by the Government.

All above new normal shall develop confidence among tourists and travelers. This will help the calibrated growth in Tourism Business to India.