Jyoti Mayal, President, Travel Agents Association of India
The year 2020 went down in history as one of the darkest times mankind has ever witnessed after almost hundred years. Covid turned out to be fatal for lives and livelihood globally. Many industries faced turmoil however amongst the worst hit were sectors like travel and tourism. With shutting down of domestic and international borders, and lockdown in almost all the countries for almost a year, travel trade industry had faced a massive backlash.
Lockdown crippled not just the economy but also the psychology of people all around the world who were forced to stay back at their homes for breaking the chain of pandemic spread. The tourism sector has majorly contributed not in terms of just finances however also in the well-being and happiness of people who always look up to travelling for beating their stress. The people somehow globally fought the pandemic twice and, in some countries, thrice and just when they thought that this might be the end of the virus another new variant Omicron popped up and the situation once again seems like slipping away from hands with a flurry of new testing rules and border closings, raising concerns ahead of the important Christmas travel season.
Shutting things down is a good move speaking from the health’s perspective but not in the best of interests for the tourism sector which had just slowly started to pick up pace after a long halt. Having said this the omicron impact on the businesses could be reduced to a certain extent by refraining from imposing a complete shut down like before, having uniformity in the state-wise guidelines for travelling and increasing the air bubble agreement with more countries. By closing borders, we can certainly curtail people from traveling but not the virus.
As far as the Aviation industry is concerned it’s time to open international borders cautiously but effectively. We need to take the world as one country & bring in policies which would be correct & coordinated as it is a
Pandemic. We cannot kill industries & economies now that we are aware of the virus. International travel is adversely affected by the current policies. Domestic travel will be impacted to a much lesser extent and much pullback will not seen as of now. There was a curtailment in the number of flights on domestic routes during the first wave as it was a virus no one knew about & had limited cure. Owing to the humongous study & nationwide vaccination drive, more knowledge about the virus & better organised healthcare regulations in the country, not much impact is anticipated domestically. Domestic travel has increased much more beyond pre-covid levels & by the first quarter of 2022 if things remained under control, we would see multiplying numbers. Domestic travel will be the maximum gainer. The central government is gauging the situation & so have people understood the challenge.
As the President of TAAI’s I would say we should move with a positive attitude towards the time ahead. Government & the people should form & implement correct protocols, procedures & work collectively towards being responsible to people around them, the industry & most effectively towards themselves. The industry will become non-existent if we do not work in collaborated, coordinated & calculative manner.