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Extended international travel restrictions stub all hopes of tourism recovery in this season, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

Extended international travel restrictions stub all hopes of tourism recovery in this season
The decision of the government to extend the suspension of international travel and visa till January 31, 2022, will mean a complete washout of one more tourism season for the Indian travel and tourism industry. The industry which was hoping to salvage some business after the government announced the opening of international scheduled carriers from December 15, 2021, is now crestfallen with the latest decision of the government and the aviation regulator to extend the suspension till January 31, 2022.

While the trade and industry understand the compulsions behind the government decision, especially considering the uncertain health situation prevailing globally after the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, they feel that “overreacting” to situations will do more harm than good economically jeopardising the survival prospects of many sectors.

“It’s a very grim situation for the entire inbound travel industry. The extension of the suspension of international flights will put brakes on industry’s hopes to salvage at least 20 per cent business in this season,” says Rajnish Kayastha, Secretary, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). However, he understands the compulsions for the government to act considering the great backlash during the second Covid-19 wave last year. “Politically, the government may be right as if it doesn’t want to go into another national lockdown. But the decision is, of course, a big setback for the travel and tourism industry,” he said.

Travel trade associations and the industry in general feels that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has applied a very good approach with respect to calibrated restart of scheduled flights as they now feel that tourism promotions should increase big time now as enthusiasm among travellers is also high.

EM Najeeb, a notable figure in the travel and tourism industry, who met important policymakers including the NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, lobbying for opening the international commercial flights during his last visit to the national capital, also expressed similar sentiments on the government’s latest decision to extend the suspension of international flights.

Najeeb stated, “It will be quite harmful to the travel and tourism industry. Now, the tour operators will have nothing to do other than wait for the next travel season.” He further said that survival will become difficult without adequate financial support from the government.

With the extension, the objectivity of the 5 lakh free e-Tourist Visa announced by the government has been defeated, feels Rajiv Mehra, President of IATO. Mehra said that they will lobby for the extension of the scheme without a cap in terms of numbers till March 2023.

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