Take precautions, ease travel restrictions & sensitise travellers to soften the Covid blow, feel residents
Rebuild tourism in phased manner
September 27 is observed as the World Tourism Day. But this year, it was celebrated under Covid shadow. The WHO experts claim that the virus is going to be with us till 2022 or even longer. There is no doubt that the tourism industry is one of the first casualties of this pandemic. But other industries such as automobile and cinemas have also been hit badly. As a result, so many people suffered and lost their jobs and earnings. To revive the tourism in the state, some special steps have to be taken. First of all people and pilgrims must be asked to get Covid-19 negative certificate from the relevant authorities. Face masks must be worn properly. Hand sanitisation should also be observed. In buses and trains social, rather physical, distancing must be strictly implemented. The seating capacity of the buses, trains and aeroplanes must be reduced to 50% or even less. Himachal Pradesh has opened its tourism sector but people there are wary of it. Tourism should be revived in a phased manner.
Dr J S Wadhwa
Need to Tap more natural resources
The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted all industrial and commercial activities but the tourism industry is a major casualty. In Punjab, where tourism is restricted to major religious and some historical places only, potential of tourism relating to culture, rural and ecology needs to be explored and promoted in addition to streamlining existing infrastructure. A state whose name is derived from the rivers, has miserably failed to link its water bodies to the concept of tourism. Punjab should feel proud in hosting some of world-class wetlands at Harike Kanjli and Keshopur, having multiple avenues of tourists” interests but unfortunately they remain under utilised so far. Three districts, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Pathankot, at the foothills of HP, where hydroelectric and various irrigation projects are commissioned, hold tremendous possibilities of making them tourists spots with multiple activities of tourists indulgence. In the post Covid era, the potential of water sports should be tapped to attract tourists. The spectacular view of hills around and lakes with boating facilities there at can be grown into world class tourists centres provided recreational and public utility services are provided at affordable cost. The concept can promote tourism which generally non-existent in the state.
Make small videos to educate travellers
Punjab being one of the top tourist states in the country is famous for its delicacies, cuisine culture and history. Many tourists visit Punjab only to visit Golden Temple and Attari border which is no less than a holy place. After the Covid tourism has been worst hit and badly affected, the Punjab Government is not doing anything to promote tourism.. Government should make small advertisements to promote tourism. Low-cost hotels, basic amenities and a special focus should be given on hygiene, proper public utility system and create special care and disabled friendly atmosphere. Old forts and heritage buildings should also be given a facelift.
Tourist sites must take initiative
Each and every place in the country has been closed for about more than 100 days. Starting a new venture after a full stop has been a difficult task but we together can achieve it. One major help can be taken from advertisements or pamphlets. The tourist sites should start floating ads. They should organise fun activities for every age group. The places should be clean and sanitised so that people are tension free regarding their health. The ‘must visit’ places should be worth it. Tourism is the best phenomenon of earning money. There must be a guide in each and every historical place to learn about the history of the same.
Peaceful environment needed for revival
The steps to control the pandemic are the best way to revive the tourism. Testing should be one of the mainstays to isolate the infected to win trust of the prospective tourists. Stuble burning by the farmers needs to be brought under the scanner as it hampers the tourism growth by creating pollution. Various strikes by different organisations flaunting the social distancing norms and creating fear and uncertainty must be nipped in the bud. A peaceful environment is a prerequisite for revival of tourism. All the ordinances and guidelines must be followed at the entry points of the state. Tour operators should come up with the attractive offers for the tourists and onus to aid the operators in all possible ways is on the government.
Prioritise hygiene, cleanliness & safety
The state has incredible tourism potential and the pandemic has had a debilitating effect on the tourism industry as those dependent on tourism for earning their livelihood have been rendered jobless and savings bankrupt. Hence, the industry ought to be supported by the state with all our efforts. Tour operators and travel agents will have to adapt to a new business model to survive as people nowadays depend more on mobiles and digital mode. The need of the hour is to win the confidence of the prospective tourists by drastically changing attitude and behaviour towards them. Hygiene, cleanliness and safety should be given top-most priority. GST waiver or reduction is a must to resuscitate the industry. Collateral-free borrowing or government guarantee on tourism sector borrowing should be made facile. Advertisement and disseminating information are critical to boost the sagging morale of the industry. Public relations activities and media can play a significant role in this respect. It will be a shot in the arm if enlightened people join hands with the government bodies to develop policies and code of conduct to promote sustainable tourism and to motivate those engaged with the sector.
Tarsem S Bumrah
Discounts, freebies could help
All of the safety protocols must be followed by every person employed in the tourism industry so that the faith of the people can be revived. Advertisements must be published to make people aware about tourism. If possible, some freebies must be distributed to people so that they spread the benefits of tourism to others through word of mouth. Police should be stricter against snatchers. Dustbins must be installed at regular distances in the city to avoid littering. Some special discounts for purchasing in shops or eating at restaurants can be offered to people. All this can make the industry thrive.
Take comprehensive recovery measures
The resilient, ever-evolving and thriving tourism industry, including its allied services such as aviation, travel, hospitality etc, is one of the worst-hit sectors in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Severe restrictions on recreational and entertainment activities, business operations and public and private transport have disrupted social interactions and travel behaviour. A sharp decline in consumer demand has eventually resulted in massive economic and job losses, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people in the country. Following the health and personal safety protocol, the 40th anniversary celebration of the World Tourism Day this year has been a modest, low-key affair. However, it strongly emphasised the need to revive this sector as it plays a stellar role in preserving and promoting the country’s socio-economic, cultural, political and natural values and traditions; enhancing national unity, harmony and integration; and contributing to sustainable, inclusive development. The ongoing crisis provides an opportunity to recognise the potential of tourism and rethink its future by immediately developing comprehensive recovery measures. The Ministry of Tourism has launched the SAATHI application to ensure safety precautions in the hospitality industry. The state governments across the country have gradually opened up the tourist sector and relaxed the Covid rules for restoring confidence of the travellers. Besides exploring the lesser known places of tourist attraction, these governments should take immediate measures to promote the existing destinations such as heritage and pilgrim sites, landscapes, majestic hills and mountains, and charming towns that leave the tourists with memories of a lifetime. They should take more initiatives to formulate and execute right infrastructural policies and programmes at the right time to bring the beleaguered tourist sector back on the track within time.
D S Kang