India is one of the favourite preferred destinations to travel for both domestic and overseas travellers. The growth of the country's economy is one of the main reasons behind the expansion of tourism in India. This service sector is one of the largest industry and accounts for 6.23% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment to 8.78% of the population.
The tourism industry in India managed to generate around $275.5 billion in revenue in fiscal 2018 with an annual growth rate at 9.4%.
As per the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) the country ranked third amongst 185 countries in terms of the total contribution made towards travel and tourism towards GDP for fiscal 2019.
The tourism sector was expected to grow strongly during this year but the outbreak of the pandemic and its aftermath have led to the steep decline in the revenue for fiscal 2020 over the previous year.
Impact of Coronavirus on Tourism Industry
The coronavirus crisis followed by the subsequent lockdown and travel restrictions blunted the tourist enthusiasm to a great extent.
The tourism sector experienced a crippling effect. The nationwide lockdown announced in late March 2020 coincided with the peak tourism season kickstarting from early April onwards.
Guides, tour operators, vehicle drivers, hotels, restaurants, shops and other facilities related directly or indirectly to the tourism have taken a hit owing to the spread of the virus infections.
To earn a living the people who were earlier employed in the tourism sector had to turn to farm and other meagre jobs to sustain an earning for meeting their families need.
Forecasted Revenue Loss
This year the Tourism Industry in India is forecasted to book a revenue loss to the tune of Rs 1.25 trillion owing to the shutdown of hotels, suspension of railway, road and flight operations since the onset and rampant spread of the virus infection.
A study by the CARE Rating reveals that the figure corresponds to around 40 per cent fall in revenue over the previous year's figures.
The report estimates that the impact of coronavirus on the pandemic on the sector is at about 50% between January - February and it is likely to be more at around 70% in March owing to suspension of international flights.
Between April - June, the sector is projected to book a revenue loss to the tune of Rs 69,400 crore, a year-on-year loss of 30 per cent.
The impact of the coronavirus was imminent and could be seen on the hotel, tourism sector across the country be it inbound, outbound, leisure, heritage, adventure, wildlife tourism, conferences, cruise, corporate, exhibitions, meetings, incentives and so on.
The travel and hospitality industry had to witness turbulent times as around five crore jobs were lost owing to the virus-related crisis.
Speaking about this year 2020 on the tourism sector, Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels & Deputy Chairman of CII - Eastern Region, stated, "This year has been a huge learning curve. Given that the travel, tourism and hospitality sector particularly was the most affected by the challenges of the pandemic, it also picked up and adapted to the odds. The industry relooked at its cost structures, created different and new business models from scratch, used the agility and nimbleness as it helped to work almost as startups this year. Considering the evolving nature of business environment owing to the current situation, the industry has adopted and embraced technological innovations to keep things afloat. While COVID-19 had just hit the country, we quickly created a revenue stream for take-away and food delivery, and further upskilled our employees during the lockdown with online and e-learning modules."
Experts feel that though the news of vaccine has given hope for early revival the actual recovery of the tourism sector may take a longer period.
Pronab Sarkar, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators, says, "Travel and tourism was the first industry to be brought to a halt to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and will possibly take longer to recover given that holiday plans have been put on hold, as the health situation remains a priority, coupled with economic and business uncertainties. We have to project a Covid free environment with proper sanitisation of our vehicles, hotels, monuments and airlines and so on to project that we are safe to travel. A positive and innovative approach, creative marketing and optimistic thinking will help the industry to revive at a faster pace."