Expert Speak: An Account of How Tourism-Dependent Regions Are Surviving
With the unlock phase coming into effect all around the country, all business sectors are trying to get back on their feet. However, the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector will remain the last to recover from this crisis. According to The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), the situation has jeopardised India’s five lakh crore tourism industry and employment of an estimated 3.8 crore jobs. The worst affected are the people of Indian states which are entirely tourism-dependent. So how are they surviving and earning now?
Read on to know how these states and union territories are keeping up.
In a state like Himachal Pradesh, where tourism plays a pivotal role in generating jobs and revenue, people are trying to maintain an inflow of income through farming and horticulture. Various measures have been adopted by the state government to ensure that farmers and horticulturists do not suffer hardships in pursuing farm activities and selling their produce. In an interview with a news daily, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur shared that Himachal Pradesh is probably the first state to allow farm activities to run smoothly even during the curfew by maintaining proper social distancing.
Ladakh, the land of high passes and most desired bike-trip destination of India hasn’t received many tourists this season. Months from May to September in the whole year is considered the best season for tourism and travel. Hotel owners and tour operators, guides, porters, and others are finding it difficult to cope with the situation. Being a high altitude cold desert and due to the arid climate, farming is much more difficult. The locals have reached out to the Union Territory administration of Ladakh regarding financial assistance, while they still experience tough times.
Taking to Twitter, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wrote, “Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the state and is the backbone of our economy. In this unlock phase, we are kick-starting our economy again by keeping the highest health safety norms in place in view of #COVID19.” Goa was the first state to open its borders in July for travellers and tourists. Although it instilled a little encouragement in everyone, even after three weeks the hospitality sector has received only 5-10% occupancy from people who are on official visits, factories, offices, or clients. The State Government has requested hoteliers to start paid COVID care centres in hotels for tourists. But the picture ahead is still uncertain Hoteliers, and business owners are indulging in webinars and online training guiding their staff, making them ready for the new normal.
Jammu & Kashmir
The state turned Union Territory, Jammu & Kashmir is probably the worst-hit state when it comes to tourism-based income. A survey report by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) says 10-month closure of the tourism sector has resulted in lakhs of job losses including artisans and weavers. The state has cancelled the annual Amarnath Yatra and is lifting a ban on tourist arrivals.
Slowly and steadily, several tourism-dependent states are opening their borders following standard operating procedures set by the centre and state governments. With COVID safety guidelines in one hand and the hope to lift the state’s economy in the other, states are fighting this pandemic and are likely to emerge victorious and healthy.