Travel Trade Journal
ADTOI looks forward to involving state governments in the revival of domestic tourism
Looking at the great expectations from domestic tourism in reviving India’s tourism fortune, ADTOI in early 2021 led the way and became the torchbearer when it hosted its Annual Convention in Kevadia, Gujarat. India’s tourism industry witnessed its first major physical event, which boosted confidence to gain a foothold and restart tourism. While domestic tourism gradually gained traction and was gathering momentum, by the end of 2021, the new Omicron COVID variant has played spoilsport. Since the onset of the pandemic, PP Khanna, President, Association of Domestic Tour Operators Association of India (ADTOI) has been addressing challenges and looking at opportunities for the revival domestic tourism market in India. TTJ speaks to Khanna to know his views about the future of domestic tourism in the country.
Though the budget was a disappointment for the travel industry, the pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of the travel associations with the Ministry of Tourism and State governments recognizing and acknowledging the potential. However, Khanna says, “The importance of associations has always been there in the industry as they are the only platform for the government and stakeholders of the industry for reaching out to its members for promoting destinations and undertaking other tourism-related activities for progressive growth of tourism in the country. Of course, the pandemic has raised the level of the role of associations when the tourism activities came to a grinding halt in March 2020.”
The year 2021 had brought some hope for the industry and saw the revival of tourism due to the efforts of both the Central and State governments. People at large also looked forward to travelling in the form of short stays and vacations, pilgrimage, business, social functions, etc. However, the Omicron struck a blow again and shattered hopes again. Khanna said, “To mitigate the suffering of our members due to loss of business, we have been constantly asking the government to provide some relief by granting some interest-free loan, tax holiday, etc. to our members who suffered business as well as income loss due to pandemic. Then again, this new wave led to restrictions by government on the movement of people, which caused distress again for our members and the travel fraternity as a whole.”
There are many factors presently discouraging domestic travellers currently from making travel plans, which are affecting the recovery of the domestic travel industry. On this, Khanna points out,
“People will never stop travelling. It was due to the pandemic that the government had to resort to stringent measures like grounding flights, bringing rail services to a halt, restriction on movement of road transportation, etc. As the situation improves and authorities lift restrictions, domestic travellers will start to move around the country to fulfil their wanderlust. They are willing to travel, provided there are no restrictions imposed by local Government/ Authorities on their movements.”
Presently, the fear of the pandemic is receding away from people’s minds. The Omicron variant has not been as severe as seen during the second wave, and travellers know that one can stay safe by following protocols. “Revival of tourism had begun. Tourism activities are catching up in all places. Associations with the support of governments and their agencies are helping the members undertake visits to various places to see for themselves about the destination’s safety. This further helps them to market it with the tourists,” states Khanna.
Intending to promote destinations in Uttar Pradesh intensively, ADTOI will be working closely with Uttar Pradesh Tourism. To facilitate the same, they are in the process of launching their UP-State Chapter in Varanasi. According to Khanna, there has been lots of developmental work that has taken place in Varanasi, and by connecting other nearby destinations with the city, the place is going to be one of the sought-after destinations. It will draw more tourists to the State.
Speaking about new trends and upcoming new domestic destinations during the pandemic, Khanna mentions, “The recent trend that we have seen of crowding the beaches, shopping malls and other public places by people when they get the opportunity to travel or move out suggests that they will never stop travelling and given the opportunity they are prepared to travel to places of their interest. While we help the travellers plan their journeys, we advise them to observe protocols and state regulations while on the move. Also, there are a number of destinations that are getting tourists in good number during the pandemic like Kashmir, Leh-Ladakh, Andaman Nicobar Islands to name a few. There are also plenty of weekend destinations which have cropped up and people have been discovering new places in their vicinity where they can drive and spend time with family and friends.”
ADTOI’s agenda will remain the same for 2022 as the last year. This year they would like to involve State governments in promoting their destinations. They are keen that governments associate with them in organising roadshows so that ADTOI members can promote the same with their customers and other domestic travellers.