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Wednesday, 22 April, 2020, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

India’s robust domestic tourism segment will soften impact of COVID-19: Suman Billa

Although the travel & tourism industry in India currently staring at an uncertain future with the COVID-19 pandemic inflicting an unforeseen dent on business and travel prospects, Suman Billa, Director – Technical Cooperation & Silk Road Development, UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) is hopeful that sector will bounce back since India has a fairly strong domestic tourism market. “We are in a much better position than most other countries. One way to look at it is through data on the size of outbound, inbound and domestic segments. Because India has a robust domestic tourism segment, it will soften the impact of COVID-19 drastically.”

Billa was speaking on an e-conference from Madrid which was jointly organised by the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and TravelBiz Monitor. He was of the opinion that with the current outbreak that has engulfed the world, the awareness and recognition towards health will take center stage. “India has a huge opportunity because there will a growing interest for wellness, Ayurveda and yoga along with religion. This will be a huge opportunity to be tapped towards a long-term recovery.” 

Enumerating on the methods to be adopted, Billa said that countries will have to undertake measures to create value for travellers to revive the overall sentiment. “Markets are going to open in a staggered manner. From the inbound point of view with Europe and USA brought down to their knees, India needs to get market agnostic, and reorient strategies to tap markets that are ready to travel and pay for the services.”

While sharing his optimism about revival, Billa expressed concerns about job losses. “I think the support will come for the industry, however, the question is how do we protect jobs? As and when the government announces relief measures, we all need to realise that there is only a limited corpus available with the government, and the primary area of focus for the industry should be the possibility of securing jobs.” 

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