India Tourism Mart (ITM) was organized this year from February 18 to 20, 2021. The Ministry of Tourism and the and Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) jointly organized the event. The main agenda was to deliberate ways and means to quickly get international tourism back into the country. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has already indicated that global tourism would take more than two years to revive.
Around 557 buyers participated in the third edition of ITM this year. The participants include over 250 international buyers from over 60 countries.
The Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, said that his ministry is committed to supporting international travel for tourism. The minister further added that Indian has started granting ‘Medical Visas’ (for patients who come to India for specific medical treatment). India will be ready to provide E-visa’s for passengers as soon as regular are flight services are restored.
Tourism Essential for Meeting Growth Targets
During the conference, Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog (the think tank of the Government of India), said –
The revival of tourism is integral for India to regain the GDP growth of 9 to 10 percent sooner than later. I am quite confident that the tourism sector will bounce back quickly as soon as vaccination picks up momentum.”
In 2019, the Indian Travel & Tourism industry contributed $194 billion (6.8% of GDP) to the economy, according to a Times of India report.
New Guidelines Issued for Arriving Passengers
The Government of India issued a fresh set of guidelines for arriving international passengers on February 17. The new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) came into effect from 23.59 hours on February 22 and will remain in force till further orders.
The fresh set of guidelines separates travelers from high-risk countries. The United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa are the high-risk countries notified, but this list gets updated daily. Passengers arriving from these countries are mandatorily subjected to a self-paid confirmatory COVID-19 test on arrival at the port of entry. For passengers from other countries, a self-declaration and the RT-PCR test report taken 72 hours before departure have to be uploaded on the Air Suvidha portal. The details will be posted on the Air Suvidha portal (www. new Delhi airport. in) before departure. Follow this link for more details.
International Passenger Traffic Remains Weak
India has officially suspended all international flights till the end of March 2021. The permitted flights operate under a special ‘Bubble’ agreement between two countries. The International passenger traffic remains weak. The data released by the Airports Authority of India for January shows a decline of about 80% percent compared to last year. The year to date (April 2020 to January 2021) decline in traffic is about 90%.
It is becoming critical for the Indian economy to open up now. International tourism has to restart quickly. What are your thoughts on this issue? Do write to us in the comments section below.