NEW DELHI: India’s tourism sector will continue to struggle despite last week’s reopening of the historic Taj Mahal and other top attractions as part of the country’s ongoing efforts to kick-start the economy, according to industry experts.
With international tourism into the country still largely restricted, and even Indian citizens put off travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the slowdown in the sector will be more prolonged than previously forecast, analysts predict, report agencies.“Because of this pandemic, people aren’t even prepared to travel within the country,” says Ankit Singh, the founder of Extra Edge Travels, a New Delhi-based company that offers tours in India and abroad. “It’s almost like this industry has come to a halt now. We’ve been impacted financially and we had to issue some refunds out of our own pocket.”
Despite the reopening of the 17th-century Taj Mahal and other tourist attractions, coronavirus infections continue to surge in India. On Saturday, India’s total confirmed Covid-19 cases crossed 5.9 million after more than 85,000 new infections were added in 24 hours, according to government data.
According to a report released this month by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the travel and tourism industry is expected to lose a total of $65.57 billion (Dh240.8bn) as a result of the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has given a crippling blow to the Indian travel and tourism industry,” CII says in the report.
“The shutdown and slowdown, which was initially expected to affect revenue streams until October, have now indicated otherwise and it will be far more prolonged than the sector had earlier anticipated.”
Hotels in India are only likely to be able to achieve an occupancy level of 30 per cent until the start of next year, according to CII, which adds that revenue streams are likely to be eroded by 80 to 85 per cent.“The figures are quite alarming and the industry needs immediate measures for survival,” CII says.
The travel and tourism industry in India makes up 9.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and employs 8.1 per cent of the population, its figures reveal.