The wheels of the nation have begun to move, after a most ominous pause, that at one time looked dangerously moving into a full-stop mode. Then, the stop appeared to become a comma, then, slowly started giving way to making short sentences, and now bigger ones. While the threat of lives, continues, the threat to livelihoods has become greater and given a calibrated move towards normalization, the world, and we in India, would start learning to live with the Corona.
Much of what appears in this issue was written during the last month when the industry was in a full lockdown mode. With airlines and airports shut, hotels and restaurants closed, with every possible outlet downed, behind its shutters. Never had the world imagined such a situation. Never had the world witnessed such a closure. Ironically, it was the world traveller, namely Coronavirus, that roamed the globe, causing havoc. Came a time when borders between states within the union, some within the NCR region that had taken few decades to get removed, in the first place, to come back, making people look only inwards. The home became the only safe place. It was a far cry from invoking people to travel, which is what our business is all about.
But indeed, the wheels are setting in motion, calibrated to ensure that the new norms come into place, as the nation starts moving again. Can we become more responsible than before, as a people? Ironically, again, much of the new norms are not difficult to implement, essentially meant to maintain the highest standards of hygiene. Keeping a safe social distance, for example. Or washing hands often. Or not sneezing and coughing with disregard to people around us.
We expect that the initial confusions, with a multitude of restrictions in different states, would settle down to some common code, and perhaps sooner than you imagine. Common Protocols will soon become a reality; some patience is needed. Out of this challenge, hopefully, we will come out as more conscious and responsible citizens, and that much of the new norm would hopefully get imbibed into our psyche for good.
Travel is the essential kick-start needed for any economy. Travel is the bigger picture. In developing economies, much that is travel has got inter-locked with tourism, which is still seen as a luxury. But travel is not. Therefore, we believe it is time that some of our activities would do better to be given new names!
In the last few weeks, all segments of the industry have been clamouring for big-time reliefs. None has been forthcoming. All segments of the industry have been hugely impacted. The loss of jobs, businesses and an uncertain future have thrown the entire industry into disarray. One possibility is that we continue to suffer from an elite image, as a business unrelated to the common man. For example, when you consider the hospitality industry across segments, the elite part may possibly be only in single digits as part of the overall numbers; the largest component would be single or no star accommodation!
In looking for new names, Like Tourism may be seen in a better light as Travel and Tourism (T&T, or T2), hotels may become more acceptable as ‘accommodations’, and civil aviation better understood as ‘air transport’. The industry may need to ponder these over, as essential to bringing shifts in the larger understanding (and acceptance) of what our industry delivers to the nation.