SUBJECT :In a challenging time, when almost all industries are facing recession due to this unprecedented pandemic, the Tourism Industry (Eco-Tourism) of India is suspected to be at a trough level, hoping to grow soon with an adaptation of #newnormal. 

November 7, 2020: In a challenging time, when almost all industries are facing recession due to this unprecedented pandemic, the Tourism Industry (Eco-Tourism) of India is suspected to be at a trough level, hoping to grow soon with an adaptation of #newnormal.

 Tourism industry was always perceived to be a promising sector before the pandemic, because of the ever-increasing rate of tourists at various places, spotted in all seasons.

The biggest fact why Tourism industry was soaring high and being able to contribute a large share in economic development, was simply the aspect of people needing of a break from their busy schedule, escaping into the laps of nature and falling in love with new destinations, making memories.

 Reports say, the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the worst crises that has ever hit the Indian Tourism Industry, impacting all its geographical segments, inbound, outbound, domestic verticals, leisure, adventure, heritage, MICE, cruise and corporate. There are also chances that around 174 million jobs in the tourism sector could be lost in 2020 due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and a loss of thousands of crores of rupees will be incurred as the Government is suspending all tourist visas for a certain period time, looking forward to the pandemic.

Despite all these odds, fighting hard to stabilize the economy of the state, the Odisha Tourism department is all set to welcome the tourists after centre’s decision of lifting up the nationwide lockdown.

 Eyeing up to the promotion and development of tourism sector, the State government has recently launched a new initiative to attract foreign tourists by hosting Eco-retreat in four  places in the state, including Konark, informed Director of Tourism Department Sachin Ramchandra Yadav.

The event will run for three months from December 1, 2020. Tourists can enjoy the convenience of star hotels and barges under temporary tents; moreover, there will also be adventure trips, water sports, boating and cultural activities, said an official order.

According to the information, a total of 1,54,22,45 tourists visited Odisha in 2016. Of these, 1,53,07,938 were from within the state and 1,15,124 from abroad. In January 2020, the number of tourists was 16, 25,938, in February 12, 62,334 and in March a total of 41,157 tourists.

Besides, the number of tourists has been steadily rising in Odisha since the opening of lockdown and owing to the immense popularity of the Chandrabhaga Eco-retreat program last year,  the department is organizing eco-retreat programs in Konark, Hirakud, Daringibadi, Satkosia and Bhitarkanika. Attention is being given to how tourists can enjoy nature even during the pandemic. “More than 160 cottages will be built for the guests’ stay,” said Puri District Collector Balwant Singh.

Now in context of growth in tourism sector in India after opening of lockdown, reports say that Tour Operators association has written a letter to PM Narendra Modi to release service exports scheme benefits for 2019-2020.

On October 27, IATO president Pronab Sarkar in his letter to PM says, the inbound travel and tourism industry is worst affected due to pandemic as tourist visas have been suspended since March 2020.

“Offices of inbound tour operators are closed since March 25,2020 and there is zero business, zero billing and zero cash flow. Our government had announced various financial packages in the past few months, but unfortunately our industry did not get any such financial help. All our members are reeling under financial crisis as it has become difficult for them to manage anymore and survive without earnings in last seven months. No bank loans are available for us as banks have declared tourism a high-risk business, “said Sarkar.

While, in a major sigh of relief, looking forward to the data provided by the online travel booking platform Goibibo for October and November, they witnessed a gradual resurge in the tourism sector with 40 percent daily bookings for this Diwali season compared to the average bookings made in October.

To this, Odisha government is heading towards adding a new glory to its name by also creating a niche in tourism sector by also re-opening 10 eco-tourism destinations from October 1, at Badmul, Debrigarh, Daringbadi, Dangmal at Bhitarkanika, Deras, Mangalajodi, Mandasaru (Kandamal), Chhotkei, Tarava and Baghamunda (Satkosia).

The interesting fact about these destinations is that they are providing quarantine homestays for tourists, which will turn into a major attraction for travellers in coming days due to uncertainty prevailing over the continuity of Covid-19 pandemic for a longer period of time.

 So, in near future Odisha may turn into a role model for tourism development as these ventures will minimize the adverse impact of pandemic on tourism business, reports say.