Webinar on ‘Future of Tourism’ held by FICCI Rajasthan State Council and Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan
Jaipur: Tourism industry has been most severely affected by the spread of Covid-19. The importance of tourism for the economy of Rajasthan, livelihoods, employment, and entrepreneurship is well known. Government of Rajasthan has recently announced the New Tourism Policy which aims to resurrect the sector and position the State as preferred and safe tourism destination. Against this backdrop, today, on the occasion of World Tourism Day, FICCI, in association with Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan organized a webinar on "Future of Tourism" with the theme “Revitalising Tourism for Sustainable Development”.
Speaking at the virtual event, Mr. Sanjay Pande, Additional Director, Tourism Department, Government of Rajasthan said, “Government is entirely in support of the industry and we will take all the necessary measures whatever are required to build confidence in the industry. The government has been proactive right from the beginning since March when the lockdown was announced and various relief measures have been announced since then. He also mentioned that the government on its part has been very active and has seized the opportunity of the pandemic to announce a new tourism policy and it is a very pragmatic and faster in approach. In this, first time in the state, we are having provisions of Special Tourism Zones where all the other state departments will also work to develop and support that area. Due to changing preferences, our focus is now on Experiential tourism as well.”
Commenting on recovery of the sector he said that momentum is picking up, the numbers have been increasing and even post lockdown we have given approval to more that 50 new tourism project, which involve approx 500 Crores Rupees of investment.
While addressing the event, Mr. Rajiv Arora, Former Chairman, RTDC & Founder, Amrapali Jewels said, “Tourism business is still on its knees with many cities still under lockdown. With no vaccine in sight, people are still fearful to step outside their home and travel. Mask, social distancing etc. are the new normal now.” He also mentioned that the perception of common man for travelling in now changing. They want to go for wellness and avoid crowded places while maintaining social distancing along with the wish to try local taste and culture. According to him, in India, we have to look for nature and wildlife tourism where one feels stress-free and happy.
Mr. Arora also mentioned about 5 key factors which tourism industry needs to follow are a) Safety both in perception and reality, b) Health checks, c) No compromise on hygiene, d) Brand value and e) Good value for money in order to attract more tourists.
Addressing the webinar, Mr. Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Executive Director, HRH Group of Hotels said, “In these difficult times of pandemic, Tourism as an industry needs to figure out what the problem is and what exactly needs to be done in order to find the right solution. Tourism sector is totally dependent on other things and therefore our survival is getting difficult because of railways, buses, air transport being shut. At the same time, government needs to recognize tourism industry as an industry and provide the benefits that go along with an industry. He also mentioned that gaps in electricity rates, GST, staffing etc. needs to be reduced along with a lot of introspection within our industry.”
Addressing the virtual event, Ms. Sabina Chopra, Co-Founder, Yatra Online Pvt Ltd said, Travel and tourism has been the worst affected among all the industries, despite this it has the least support from the government, Central or State. With ease in rules and regulations for travel, there is now a spike in travel and therefore we need to focus more on domestic tourism rather than international tourism. According to her, leisure market will be the first one to open up with businesses still working from home and therefore Rajasthan should target that. She also mentioned that for weddings, Rajasthan is easy approachable from Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana and therefore hotels should come up with attractive packages to tap these markets.
In his address, Mr. Aman Nath, Founder & Chairman, Neemrana Hotels mentioned with travel restrictions being eased and people stepping out of their homes, hotels have to sometimes make them follow rules and regulations in order to a safe travel. According to him, tourism industry as a whole has to come together to push itself much harder to revive from this situation. Therefore, hotels needs to attract customers with cost cutting yet still providing them all the regulations laid for the industry. He also mentioned that government also has a great part to play for the survival of the industry in this current scenario.
Speaking at the virtual event, Mr. Veer Vijay Singh, CEO & MD, Trance Hotels said that Rajasthan has always been taken as one of the most progressive states as far as tourism is concerned. The state has been in promoting various heritage hotels with favourable policies and lower tax structure. Due to ongoing difficult times of Covid-19 we need more progressive and positive steps from the government. Our focus needs to be shifted to domestic tourists instead of foreign tourists as next one year is quite difficult to get foreign tourists for travel. On the other side, 24 million Indians who visit foreign countries need to be targeted for domestic tourism market. Now our focus should on how we can attract them to Rajasthan. He also urged Hotels to take steps to bring down costs also.
Welcoming the august gathering, Mr. Randhir Virkam Singh, Co-Chairman, FICCI Rajasthan State Council and CMD Mandawa Hotels said that the road to recovery for tourism industry due to the going pandemic is slow and long drawn. The industry should have two strategies for its revival viz. Short term strategy which will include revival of domestic tourism and Medium term strategy would be in international tourism space and therefore promotion of local tourism including farms, day tours and village tourism etc are now attracting travellers.
Sharing his message on World Tourism Day, Mr. Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO, New Delhi Office said, “By supporting a large base of employment, tourism in India is deemed as a rapidly growing industry. Not only does Indian tourism support a wide range of professionals across the hospitality and travel sector but also livelihoods of various artisans and small entrepreneurs.”
Mentioning the theme for the virtual event, he said that it is a critical area to be highlighted in the current situation of pandemic where hotels, crafts and heritage sights of Rajasthan tourism industry are facing major challenges. He also said that the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan and UNESCO partnership project based on intangible culture and heritage initiated last year has been an effort to create a win-win situation for the stake holders including local communities and that UNESCO strongly encourages the involvement of local communities and their safeguarding, including promotion of World heritage sights and intangible cultural heritage.
In the end, Mr. Kuldeep Singh, President HRAR and RATO presented a vote of thanks and requested Government for immediate relief in electricity charges and bar license fee as there has been no business in last 7 months.