New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is considering resumption of tourism and hospitality sectors, which have suffered a massive blow due to the Covid-19 lockdown, ThePrint has learnt.
The Ministry of Tourism is currently preparing guidelines for hotels and tour operators, which they need to adhere to once they resume their businesses.
“Our first priority is to maintain the safety of everyone due to the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19. Protocols and guidelines are being prepared for hotels, tour operators and taxi drivers. These guidelines are being prepared in consultation with the states. Their suggestions have also been included,” Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, told ThePrint.
According to the proposed guidelines, the government could make downloading of Aarogya Setu app mandatory for tourists booking hotel rooms. This apart, all employees working in hotels will have to undergo thermal screening daily.
An official from the ministry, who didn’t want to be named, said: “Right now, work is going on with special focus on some upcoming festivals. Discussions are being held with all the states. Different guidelines might be issued for different states. We will move forward only after due consultation with the tourism secretaries of the states.”
He said the tourism sector has been hit hard due to the lockdown. Asked about the amount of the losses incurred by the industry, the official said as of now it will be difficult to tell the exact figure, but what will be equally difficult is recovering the losses.
Social distancing, wearing masks
According to the proposed guidelines, the ministry official quoted above said, tourists staying in hotels will have to provide detailed information about their previous and future visits. Their health information will also have to be filled in a self-proclaimed form.
On the downloading of the Aarogya Setu app, a second ministry official said: “The Aarogya Setu app is facilitating better tracking in India. In the proposed guidelines, we are considering making it mandatory for the tourists staying in hotels.”
The guidelines will also include strict adherence to social distancing. Tourists and hotel staff have to maintain a distance of more than 2 meters from one another. Hotel floors need to be marked out so that staff and tourists stand at a distance from each other, said the first ministry official quoted above.
Tourists and hotel staff will also be required to wear masks, and hotels need to keep their premises clean and sanitised.
Short distance tours
To revive the tourism sector, which is completely shut due to the lockdown, the ministry is encouraging travel operators to focus on short distance tours now.
“Due to fear of contracting coronavirus, people will hesitate to travel to far-off places. In such a situation, we are encouraging travel and tour operators to focus on short distance tours. We want more attention to be provided to the local tourist attractions around cities. The tourism department will also like to propagate the ‘Vocal for Local’ mantra,” said Brar.
He said an online programme is being run by the ministry to make people aware about local tourist attractions.
“On the request of Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, we are running an online programme ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ through which people are being shown places of tourist attractions in the country,” added Brar.
Hotel industry massively hit
According to a survey conducted by property consultant JLL India, hotel businesses in 11 big cities have been severely affected due to the lockdown.
From January to March, there has been a decline of up to 29 per cent in revenue per available room in these big cities. Occupancy levels have also declined drastically.
According to the survey, in cities like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata, the hotel occupancy rate dropped by 5 to 17 per cent between January and March. Apart from this, the revenue of the hotels also declined by 13 to 29 per cent.