RAJEEV KOHLI । Joint Managing Director । Creative Travel 

‘DECIMATION': In one word Rajeev Kohli aptly sums up the impact of COVID-19 on the Travel & Hospitality Industry. He writes that business survival must take precedence over everything else. The Industry will be able to talk about revival only when it can survive the next few months.

There is no question that the virus has been a major disruption to lives across the world on every level. The virus is blind to colour, race or religion. Every business has been affected in one way or the other. But tourism, of all economic activities, has been hit the hardest. Due to global restrictions and embargoes, we cannot even operate if we wanted to.

So, when one asks about the impact of the virus in the travel and hospitality industry, one word can say it all – Decimation. This time around, no stakeholder in tourism without exception, has been left unscathed. From the mightiest of global brands to the smallest of the local mom & pop shops, everyone has seen their revenue streams come to a complete halt. India has instituted the hardest lockdown in the world, and rightly so. But that has made the situation here serious.

Where we stand now, there is no short-term view because in the short term we are at a standstill.  So, we need to focus on the medium-term which I would say is 3 to 6 months. Business survival is must take precedence over all else. Only if we survive the next few months with no business we can even talk about revival. The priorities of our associations are very clear – help us survive first. Various industry bodies across the country have appealed to the government multiple times for a financial support package. Tourism India is 10% of the GBP, 11% of total employment, top three in foreign exchange earnings. Yet, on government lists of priorities, we sit way at the bottom if at all. If the industry does not get some financial support, we can expect 25-30 million redundancies in the next 60-90 days. It’s that grave. We hope the Finance Ministry understands the depth of the problem we have found ourselves in. So far, we’re a bit sceptical if they have.

What comes next is quite frankly anyone’s guess. I do expect the situation in India to resolve faster than the West. The checks our government put in place easily on have worked to an extent. One cannot predict when the airlines across the world will be able to get back to speed, when hotels can restart and when governments will start processing visas. There will be new rules of travelling from one country to another and those paradigm shifts are yet to be discussed.

What I recommend for India is that the tourism ministry should reset all their old systems and policies. Look at the world afresh and create new strategies. Retire ‘Incredible India’ and restart afresh.

The world has changed. How people will travel will change. The reasons to travel will change. This is a whole new world not only for India but also for every one of our competing destinations. If we assume that our systems from the past will work in the future, then we may be in for a rude shock.

We at Creative Travel have been using the lockdown period productively. We have training webinars every day bringing in new product providers to showcase what they can do as well as hotels to update our team. Various teams are meeting every day just to keep in touch and to discuss new products to be ready for when business restarts. Our team is standing together, united and hopeful of a better tomorrow.

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