Representational Image.
Representational Image.

Foreign tourist arrivals will not revive before 2023: Report

Citing the IATA March survey, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said 80% of visitors do not want to travel due to quarantine rules
By Neha LM Tripathi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 19, 2021 09:54 AM IST

Foreign tourist arrivals in India will not touch pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels before 2023, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has said, citing the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) March survey that found 80% of visitors do not want to travel due to quarantine rules.

CAPA’s preliminary forecast indicates that foreign arrivals will grow to just over 18 million by 2030. It said India is highly dependent on long-haul flights for foreign tourist arrivals. CAPA said such flights are expected to recover more slowly than short-and medium-haul travel. It has estimated 72.0% of people will travel by air for visiting friends and relatives as soon as the pandemic has been contained.

CAPA said Covid-19 has peaked in the UK, US, Canada, China, Malaysia, Australia, which are key sources of foreign tourists to India. It added Covid-19 vaccination rollouts are in initial stages worldwide, except the UK (34.3%) and the US (19.7%). Widespread vaccinations are expected by late 2021 in other countries from where a bulk of tourists come to India, it said.

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The IATA survey found 56% of potential travellers will postpone their air travel until the economy stabilises, 66% of them feel that quarantine is not necessary for vaccinated passengers and 81% were ready to travel by air if vaccinated. The survey also found 84% of potential tourists will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine.

“The aviation and tourism industries should ensure the highest levels of strategic determination, commitment and coordination to expedite the recovery of India’s inbound tourism,” CAPA said in its report. “Although some travel may resume from winter 2021/22, meaningful recovery is unlikely until winter 2022-23 and pre-Covid volumes will probably not be achieved until winter 2023-24.” It added India is a long-haul destination from most of its source markets and a large proportion of travellers are from vulnerable older age groups. “[This] will impact the speed of recovery. Protocols related to health and hygiene, and the quality of civil infrastructure will become the new normal and the industry needs to prepare for this reality.”

Aviation safety consultant Mohan Ranganathan said foreign tourist arrivals will not revive before 2025. “Tourist’s traffic will not commence even after the vaccinations are completed until restrictions imposed by the government are lifted,” he said. “Also, it is not possible for passengers to wear face shields and masks throughout long-haul... non-stop flights [for example] between the US and India. Hence it is safe to say that international tourism will not reach pre-Covid levels until the pandemic is brought under good control.”

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