New Delhi: Now that the government is close to initiating a vaccination plan for Covid-19, fresh hope is riding among inbound tour operators about resumption of their business which is the hardest hit during the pandemic.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators, has urged the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs to announce the dates for restoration of e-visas and tourist visas and for normalisation of international flights or prepare a road map with some tentative dates.
Such a move, the association has said, 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, where earnings had almost hit zero levels with limited support coming from the government under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat programme.
“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,” said Pronab Sarkar, President, IATO.
Besides, announcing the dates for opening an e-visa and tourist visa, IATO has said that the government should also announce the dates for commencement of international flights. This is very important because international tourists take at least 3 to 6 months to commence their journey for their holiday travel to any destination, the association has said. Foreign tourists plan their tours well in advance and they will not travel immediately.
“Once above decisions are taken, it will create confidence among 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 has also requested the government that in order for the inbound tour operators to start a global marketing campaign along with the Ministry of Tourism, the government should immediately announce SEIS 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.