IMC chalks out plans to rebuild tourism

IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee organized an online interaction on Multi-Pronged Strategies to Rebuild Tourism and Travel. Senior officials from Travel and Tourism Departments from India, Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand discussed measures taken by each nation to rebuild tourism and enhance regional coordination for a sector that is going through its darkest hour in recent history.

The speakers included Rupinder Brar, IRS, Additional Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Sigit Witjaksono, Director of Tourism Marketing – East, South, Central Asia, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism, Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, Vachirachai Sirisumpan, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Rohit Khosla, Executive Vice President – Operations, North & West India, the Indian Hotels Company Limited.  Mandeep S. Lamba, President – South Asia, HVS Anarock moderated the discussion.

“IMC is delighted to have prominent personalities from the travel and tourism industry at a time when this industry is trying to get back on its feet. We are hoping that these influential changemakers’ valuable expertise on multi-pronged strategies will help in rebuilding the tourism industry and impact government decision making,” said Rajiv Poddar, President of IMC, in his welcome remarks.

Farhat Jamal, Chairman – Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee, IMC in his introductory remarks highlighted that “there is a loss of 50 million jobs and about 50 billion dollars in GDP in South Asian Region”.

Lamba, who moderated the session had prepared a set of questionnaires to the panelists pertaining to the Covid-19 impact on the Travel & Tourism sector in their respective country, the various initiatives taken by the government and so on, which were discussed in-depth during the Panel discussion.

Kimarli Fernando, while speaking on the situation in Sri Lanka stated that “long before we had a patient we were prepared”. Further, she shared that now they are fully operational, tourists are coming in particularly from Middle East countries. It’s not the number, it’s the yield we will be looking at, she said.

While speaking about the situation in Australia, Nishant Kashikar said that through discipline & efforts of government over the past 30 days there have been zero cases in Sydney & Melbourne. He also shared that the Department of Home Affairs will be waiving off VISA charges for travellers travelling between March 2020 & December 2022. For travel agents, 130 million dollar program has been rolled out, For MICE community, there is 50 million dollar exhibitor grant program. Tourism Australia is supporting 1800 products & experiences, Indian outbound travel industry grew by 8% whereas Australian counterpart grew by 16%. Travel & tourism segment has got a potential to bounce back rapidly, 40 million dollar fund has been created for indigenous communities.

While speaking on the Industry’s revival situation in Indonesia, Sigit Witjaksonosaid that “we are concerned about tourism revival in Indonesia, if situation improves, we will open up Bali and other destinations for tourists”.

Vachirachai Sirisumpan while speaking on the situation in Thailand said that “we hope that things will get better in Thailand very soon”. We are optimistic and confident that we are going as planned, first of July, we’ll open for vaccinated tourists without quarantine for Phuket island. We will open Thailand for vaccinated tourists first,  he said.

While speaking on the Travel and Tourism situation in India, Rupinder Brar said that “We are seeing a huge growth of immersion experiences”. She further stated that portal to help foreign tourists stuck in various parts of India was a success. In many parts of India, domestic travel has truly kicked in. We have to spread our destinations to create high-value tourism. Travel is intrinsic to all our lives, she said.

While speaking about the Hotel Industry, Rohit Khosla said that “I believe that 2023 is when international tourism will resume in India”.

Around 300 participants representing travel, tourism and hospitality industries attended the session.