Traditional Markets are a safer bet, he says, though it’s all not that easy to get them back. There are challenges, which may resolve over the next year or so. With India gradually opening up for international tourists, we caught up with Rajeev Mehra, president of IATO, on how he views the challenges as we open? There is some debate between new and traditional markets as being better bets for the immediate run. What does he think?
New markets – is this a safer bet, at this point in time, considering that some of our traditional markets may be challenged in terms of covid impact?
” As far as new markets are concerned, it will take some time for us to know about these markets and therefore, my suggestion is that in the next few weeks, MoT should organise Road Shows with B2B meetings with local tour operators in these markets”, he said. Such roadshows should ideally be worked in consultation with IATO and the invitees could be drawn up jointly to ensure we do not leave out gaps.
Rajeev continued to say that as far as our traditional markets are concerned, we have to depend upon them almost entirely, for some time.
” But there are few issues concerning them, and these would include the fact that norrmally, such clients who used to visit India were in the age group of 60 to 65 plus. This age group has been our traditional mainstay. Presently, from what we gather, this age group may be reluctant to travel, given the fear around covid. This category of clients will take at least another year to settle down and travel out of their country”.
Another issue which is coming up, is that many of our tour operator companies have either closed their business, due to various reasons like loss of lives due to covid-19, their money is stuck up with their suppliers, or have incurred heavy losses due to being non-operational in business. These tour operators do not have enough money to invest in travel related services,” he said.
When asked to elaborate further, Rajeev said there were also guests who booked directly – many of them have suffered losses in their respective businesses, some have lost their jobs, or have lost close and dear ones and not in a position to travel.
What’s the Big Picture like, then, for inbound?
Rajeev said overall, it’s somewhat unsettling at this point in time, and getting back to business will take at least another year to settle down, assuming that such covid waves are now generally behind us.