The Travel and Tourism industry globally has been hugely impacted due to COVID-19 with no domestic and international movement. But thanks to technology, it is possible to go to places and destinations virtually and plan travel for a later date.
“Dekho Apna Desh” is a significant initiative taken by the Ministry of Tourism of India to furnish information on various destinations, as well bring the spotlight on the ‘depth’ and ‘expanse’ of India’s culture and heritage through a series of webinars.
The series of webinars will be an on-going feature and the Ministry would work towards showcasing the diverse and remarkable history and culture of India including its monuments, cuisine, arts, dance forms, natural landscapes, wildlife, festivals and lots of other aspects of India’ rich civilization.
To know more, Today’s Traveller interacted with Ms Meenakshi Sharma IA & AS, Director General, Ministry of Tourism Government of India
Today’s Traveller Bureau: Your thoughts on “Nation First” travel in the post-Covid-19 context?
Meenakshi Sharma: Globally, leisure travel may take a longer time to thrive again as individuals may have a fear of disease and the compelling need to save for any future eventualities or till the time the central income of the families normalize.
First and foremost domestic travel will begin to beat the ‘lockdown fatigue’, as short travel is believed to be an antidote to ‘stress’. Travel, post-COVID -19 will have facets of Responsible Consumption viz Responsible Tourism.
Today’s Traveller Bureau: How would you encourage this first step to the normalization of travel in India?
Meenakshi Sharma: People must first leave home and visit neighbourhood parks and temples, then do day-trips, then drive-trips, then move on to domestic air-trips, then plan neighbouring country-trips, then take intercontinental-trips.
So, our priorities to support travel will have to begin at the local level.
The safety, hygiene and responsible behaviour of host destinations would be important. So, an effort to recognise right practices, promotion of lesser-known destinations and certain policies to encourage local tourism would be the key.
Today’s Traveller Bureau: What are the newer ways of experiencing a destination that you feel are likely to take shape once travel takes firm root?
Meenakshi Sharma: Certain types of meetings and events will see new activities ( like sponsored trade delegations, fam trips etc) but volumes will be significantly limited. We expect an increase in travel to Off Beat locations/wilderness locations / national parks through Driving Holidays.
Today’s Traveller Bureau: Will travel have a distinct newness in its product offerings? Can you give an example?
Meenakshi Sharma: Today, the demand structure in tourism and hospitality is out of shape, and when demand revives, the structure will be entirely different. Given that conventional demand is dead and supply is desperate, new demand sources, largely arising from the immediate neighbourhood will be innovated. Also demand from adjunct segments like business travel, long term rentals, fitness and wellness and driving holidays will be the initial products to be put out.
Today’s Traveller Bureau: Will travel be less expensive or more expensive post-Covid-19?
Meenakshi Sharma: Suppliers of all kinds like hotels and transport companies will dramatically reduce cost and survive on maintenance mode. Supply will be available in plenty. The entire supply chain will depend on the needs of corporates, business travel and health and wellness industries.
Today’s Traveller Bureau: Which domestic destinations are likely to be the first to revive due to tourist influx?
Meenakshi Sharma: Once travel is permitted, many people, we believe, will choose remote, domestic locations like camping holidays, national parks, off-the-beaten-track destinations and short-drive locations over densely-populated areas.