Tourism industry needs impetus to tide over Covid-19 pandemic impact
The tourism sector needs a boost to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic since it contributes over 5% of the country’s GDP and directly or indirectly employs over 12% of the working population, amounting to nearly 90 million jobs, director general in the Union tourism ministry, Meenakshi Sharma, said.
Sharma was speaking at the second HT Tourism Conclave -- held virtually on September 24 and 25 -- on the crisis in the tourism sector, which has been badly hit by coronavirus disease pandemic. “Tourism contributes more than 5% to the GDP and provides jobs directly or indirectly to over 12% of the working population, that is, nearly 90 million job,” Sharma said, stressing on the importance of reviving domestic tourism.
According to her, nearly 1.4 billion domestic tourists travel across the country on an average in a year.
“People travel for various purposes but the ambit of the sector is expansive,” Sharma said. “It covers a whole spectrum of heavy investment sectors like civil aviation, road and transport and railway to the minute sectors like dhabas and hawkers.”
She said “tourism mirrors the economy and the society, and at same time meets, the needs of people at various levels”.
Sharma said that need of the hour was a revival strategy. “A large number of the people employed are part of the unorganised sector and have no social security. Earlier it was about survival but as the economy opens up, we need to talk revival.”
She highlighted the government’s efforts to bolster the sector with schemes such as the Jan Dhan Yojana and relaxation on the moratorium of loans. “Nearly 80% of tourism is driven by MSMEs and the moratorium relaxation will help them,” Sharma said, adding that the ministry was consulting finance ministry and the MSME ministry to see what other steps can be taken to aid the enterprises.
“We have already issued guidelines for the industry and are running the Saathi programme to help assuage any fear that the people have regarding travel. Confidence-building is crucial to reviving the sector,” she said.