New Delhi: An estimated 2 crore to 5.5 crore people employed (directly or indirectly) in the tourism sector in India have lost their job in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism secretary Yogendra Tripathi informed the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture Monday, ThePrint has learnt.
According to members of the panel, Tripathi also told them that their projections suggest the pandemic has led to revenue losses to the tune of Rs 1.58 lakh crore. The panel met Monday to discuss the impact of the Covid pandemic on the tourism and civil aviation sectors.
Like tourism, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the aviation sector too. Panel members said, in his presentation, aviation secretary P.S. Kharola said there will be up to 50 per cent-60 per cent reduction in international traffic and up to 50 per cent reduction in domestic traffic.
Kharola, however, did not offer estimates on projected revenue loss, the members added.
“Without giving any estimates, the secretary said airlines and airport revenues have been badly hit. Because of Covid’s impact, there is a possibility that some aircraft may have to be grounded,” one of the members who attended the meeting said.
The aviation sector, Kharola was quoted as telling members, will also see significant but temporary job losses, both direct and indirect. “Besides, the secretary said that there will be significant reduction in the international air cargo handled at airports across the country,” a second member said.
No clarity on return to normalcy
The tourism and aviation ministry officials, however, were unable to forecast when normal business will resume in the two sectors, panel members said.
Tourism ministry officials, the second member claimed, said it is difficult to tell whether business will be back to normal in 2021, 2022 or 2023.
“Tourism ministry officials said that the sector is facing many challenges. People are unwilling to travel. Many states are not agreeing to the resumption of domestic flights. Some states are quarantining people coming from other states. International flights are also very limited. In such a scenario, the revival is very uncertain,” the member added.
Some members of the panel, it is learnt, also raised the issue of how banks are reluctant to give loans to people in the tourism sector.
Even officials from the civil aviation ministry said clarity on revival will only emerge in the next few months, the members quoted above said.
“Ministry officials said services will be resumed in a gradual and staggered way with all precautions in place. Without giving specifics, officials said that necessary relief will be provided for the recovery of the sector,” the second member said.
Civil aviation officials told the MPs that the ministry is now focussing on policies and structural reforms to revive the sector and rebuild the confidence of passengers and stakeholders.
The International Air Transport Association, a trade body, has predicted that, even if the pandemic is controlled, travel demand will return to 2019 levels only in 2023.
The aviation and tourism sectors have been among the worst affected by the Covid pandemic, with governments around the world, including India’s, placing restrictions on travel to control its spread.
A limited number of international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission, to bring back Indians stranded abroad, while some domestic flights are back in action too.