The Indian government announced on Wednesday (December 1) its decision to postpone the resumption of scheduled international flights due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant, causing a setback for the expectant tourism industry hoping for a recovery.
A circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said that the central government is currently monitoring the global coronavirus situation in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“International scheduled flights are key for the recovery of inbound tourism. The industry has long been demanding scheduled flights to resume to create a positive impact in international markets,” said Naveen Manchanda, president, Indian Association of Travel and Tourism Experts.
“Also, it will help to make prices of tickets competitive as they are presently on the higher side because of limited flights,” he added.
Scheduled international flights have remained suspended in India since March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government had recently announced that scheduled international flights will resume on December 15 after many months of delay, a move which would bring much-needed respite to inbound tourism stakeholders.
“We were in high hopes of receiving clients that usually visit us in December. But since the cost of flights has increased and the number of fights have reduced, they will have a negative impact on our expected revenue for the winter months,” said Abhilash K Ramesh, executive director of Kairali Ayurvedic Group, which caters to the wellness segment.
India has allowed special international flights to operate in the country under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020.
Meanwhile, some tourism stakeholders are hoping that domestic demand will tide them through the virus crisis. Manish Goyal, founder, Stotrak Hospitality, said: “The deferment of scheduled international flights will certainly delay the recovery of inbound tourism. However, we expect to sustain the trade based on domestic travel for the time being.”