India’s industry players are banking on domestic tourism to revive their sagging fortunes amid travel slowdown, in view that local holidaymakers may prefer to travel domestically in the near term, due to global concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The shift towards localism follows Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s extension of the country’s nationwide lockdown, the biggest in the world covering 1.3 billion people, until May 3.
Tourism stakeholders in India told TTG Asia that post-pandemic, international travel will take a backseat once travel restrictions have been eased or lifted, and domestic tourism will lead the industry’s recovery.
Sarbendra Sarkar, founder and managing director, Cygnett Hotels and Resorts, said: “Internationally, for both business and leisure travel to normalise and to start growing, the larger world economy needs to start healing. Domestic tourism will be the only area of focus for the first few quarters once this pandemic is over.
“Also, considering that India is a key outbound tourism market, there is a good opportunity to attract this segment to domestic destinations.”
With that in mind, some stakeholders are urging the Indian government to do more and offer incentives to spur domestic tourism.
“This is the time that the Ministry of Tourism and state tourism departments should (come together to) brainstorm how to propel domestic tourism once the pandemic goes away,” said Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.
Jyoti Mayal, president, Travel Agents Association of India, added: “The revival of our industry will begin if the government incentivises domestic travel because this segment will be the first to open business prospects for us. We have already requested the authorities to provide incentives for holding corporate events in India.”