Its inception can be traced back to 1894, when Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s father first birthed the tradition
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The optimism shown by stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry in India came in for praise by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel.
He was addressing a session during the ongoing ASSOCHAM Foundation Week programme, which began on December 15. The theme for the programme this year is “India’s resilience: Atmanirbhar roadmap towards USD 5 trillion economy.”
Discussing the untapped potential of medical and wellness tourism in India, the minister said that the industry could benefit from medical tourism in the post pandemic period. “The coronavirus pandemic is almost over now and whatever damage it had to do has happened. During this period, our steps brought a lot of good name for the country. Even foreigners preferred to stay back here and felt safe. Now the post pandemic situation is one where our system of medicine, local cure and wellness methods are what could be best suited to deal with it. After corona medical tourism is expected to rise and we must be prepared for this opportunity,” he said.
Talking about holiday destinations, Patel noted that people are now preferring to go to tiger reserves and other serene places to be with nature.Lauding the role of ASSOCHAM for its contribution to the growth of the industry as well as sharing forward looking ideas with the government, Patel said that the Ministry of Tourism is moving forward with its efforts for the growth of the tourism industry with the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Our government acknowledges the contribution of ASSOCHAM in the growth of the industry and the country. We understand the impact of the pandemic on the industry and we have accepted the loan restructuring proposals and forwarded to the finance ministry,” he informed.
The session was attended by members of the travel and tourism sector who also spoke about ways to revive tourism in the post pandemic times. Stressing on the need to boost domestic tourism, Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that domestic tourism is growing in a more organic fashion in the new world. “Domestic tourism has a lot of potential. India’s natural heritage have been rated sixth greatest in the world by the World Economic Forum. In the post-COVID recovery I would like to say that we truly are a blessed land. Having said that, we are not forgetting the global market too,” she said.
The tourism industry could benefit a lot from medical tourism in the post-corona period, as India has not just proved to be safer but is also ideal for dealing with post-corona impacts that people may still carry: Union Minister @prahladspatel, at #ASSOCHAMFoundationWeek pic.twitter.com/zqZhAwyDbb— ASSOCHAM #WearAMask (@ASSOCHAM4India) December 17, 2020
Also in attendance was Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes. He said that technology will drive the next phase of growth for the travel and tourism sector in India. “The current situation also gives as an opportunity to collaborate and create a safe and hygienic ecosystem for travellers in the country,” he said.
Speaking about OYO’s efforts towards the revival of tourism in the country, he said that the company has made some good progress in this space through multiple initiatives like Sanitised Stays, Sanitise Before your Eyes and Contactless Check-in. “With an increased focus on domestic travel, we have an opportunity to develop smaller cities in India as the next tourism hubs while being self-reliant to revive the sector and realise the vision of our Prime Minister of making India a $5 trillion economy,” Agarwal said.Speaking at the session, Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels, said that the industry is looking forward to working together with the government to tide over the crisis. “The hotel industry sits amidst its most challenging times in its history. Loan repayments, fresh fund infusion, and rocky cash flows continue to stifle,” he said, adding that the government should look at the hospitality industry as an industry and provide them the same relaxations.
Talking about the importance of the tourism industry for the country, Manik Batra, Director, Batra Group, Chairman, ASSOCHAM J&K Council said that tourism is not only a major contributor to India’s GDP but also helps in generating employment at a large scale. “Being from Jammu and Kashmir, I understand the importance of tourism in the socio economic development of a region. Tourism sector would play an important role to realise our government’s vision of making India a 5 trillion dollar economy,” Batra said.
Shri Mahesh Natarajan, Senior Vice President Marketing, Sales & Business Development,
IHHR Hospitality, said that as the most severely impacted sector due to the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry must receive significant national attention, encouragement and stimulus.
Moderating the event, Dr. Subhash Goyal, Founder & Chairman, STIC Travel Group of Companies, said that tourism was the first to get affected due to the pandemic and will be the last to recover. He said if scheduled international flights are started along with e-visas, then tourism can also be the first to bounce back. “With a little financial and taxation support, we could save about 50 million jobs and the tourism and aviation industry could play a major role in achieving the 5 trillion dollar economy for our country,” he said.
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