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Better tomorrow?

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | Pioneer

Crushed, the tourism industry is hoping that the run of bad luck would soon be over

The travel and tourism industry, along with associated arms like the hospitality and aviation sectors, has been in the doldrums for at least two seasons in a row. Depression has set in, hope has touched nadir, jobs have been lost and revenue — both for individual players and the Governments, alike — is shying away from the invested entrepreneurs like Vijay Mallya from the Indian law-enforcement agencies. But the Centre and State Governments’ ongoing inoculation drive, as it gathers momentum, has injected a sense of optimism and enthusiasm among the stakeholders. From Kashmir to Uttarakhand to Himachal Pradesh to Goa and Kerala, basically almost all the States where the economy thrives on travel, tourism and hospitality, it’s the same story of despair. But Wednesday brought with it a sliver of hope and positivity when Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel fanned the embers of their dying hope. He said in unequivocal terms that the ongoing vaccination drive is going to drive the revival of the tourism sector. Giving the entrepreneurs in the above-mentioned sectors another reason to smile, he added that the Government is working on a uniform policy and setting up protocols for travellers getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Speaking to a conglomerate of well-known companies operating in the related fields, he lauded their efforts in coming together to “promote the interests of the smallest and often under-represented operators”. Meanwhile, in Goa, the tourism stakeholders were trying to decipher Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s statement that re-opening of tourism would be considered after its entire population is vaccinated with at least one dose. Similarly, in Kerala, the tourism sector is in peril as the State has lost three consecutive seasons for the first time. The two consecutive floods in 2018 and 2019, and now the COVID-19 pandemic have flattened the tourism sector. The tour operators are clueless as to when they will see a return to the good old days. In Kashmir, too, the sector has been hit two successive years. In March this year, tourist arrivals had picked up to 1,25,000 from about 19,000 in January before the second wave of COVID-19 hit home. Here’s hoping that the lives and livelihood of all of them, as well as of their families, get back on track as early as possible.

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