With COVID infections declining in India and more and more people getting vaccinated every day, states across the country have been gradually easing COVID-related curbs with an aim to revive the economy. Moreover, the upper and the middle class are now flocking to malls and shopping centres, and are jetting off to holiday destinations to shake off their 'Lockdown Fatigue'.
But on the flip side, there is the lurking danger of such steps leading to a fresh outbreak.
Last week, the central market at Delhi's Lajpat Nagar was shut down indefinitely over non-adherence of COVID norms. The decision was taken after an inspection was carried out by the sub-divisional magistrate along with COVID-19 appropriate behaviour enforcement teams. This arises the next big question: who shall bear the onus of maintaining COVID appropriate behaviour. On the other hand, images of massive crowd on the streets of Manali and Dharamshala, and other popular tourist destinations are also causing concerns.
While, the pick-up in tourism is a silver lining, how do we ensure a responsible restart? What are hotels and home stays etc. doing to ensure safety of travellers?
To talk about the way out for hotels, homestays and tourism; CNBC-TV18 spoke with Rajesh Magow, co-founder and Group CEO of Make My Trip; Kapil Chopra, founder CEO, Postcard Hotel and Chairman, Easy Diner. Along with them are Pradeep Shetty, Joint Secretary, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India and Ashish Grover, General Secretary, Confederation of All India Traders.
Talking about revival of tourism and travel, Magow said it is a bit of a repeat of the recovery we saw after the COVID-19 first wave and probably it is steeper if one were to look at recovery curve. The air passenger traffic flow is around 2 lakh a day, which is nearly 40 percent recovery. On the hotel side, it is about 50 percent.
Similarly, city bus transport in states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are little behind.
This time as well it is similar sort of consumer behaviour we had seen after the first wave, which is pent-up demand, revenge travel, fatigue and maybe the summer weather has helped this, said Magow. Across the board the signs are encouraging.
Chopra said at the hotel level all the precautions like sanitising etc. can be done but if one were to look at the pictures coming in from Manali and other hill stations are cause of concern. So more than a hotel situation, it is a law and order situation. It was a good decision by the Delhi government to shut down the central market at Lajpat Nagar.
Tourism has to be responsible and has to work with local law and order authorities. It is appreciable what the Goa government has done, it has opened up restaurants with restrictions. There is an RT-PCR test compulsory for entry into Goa.
“As a hotel owner there are two-sides to the coin - you have to be very concerned about the guest but you also have to be concerned about the safety of your team,” said Chopra. "What is happening in hill stations is very concerning - this time around they are very lax in implementing basic social distancing and if epidemic breaksout there it will be create havoc," he added.
For the entire discussion, watch video
(Edited by : Bivekananda)