Authorities should stop pretending to be asleep, as our fuel is burning out
By Swaroop Kallada, Secretary – Tourism Professionals Club
It’s a bad time for the entire world. When the virus was detected in Wuhan, we were a little bothered about its consequences but never knew our lives would come to a standstill.
It’s a reality now that our passion alone cannot drive us to the end of the tunnel where things start to look normal. We had dreams and our lives were colourful. But all of that has been shattered. India was known for its traditional hospitality, as far as tourism is concerned. And the secret was the passionate people we had in our industry. But when it comes to the question of our own survival, priorities shift.
During the 1980s, Kerala was just like any other tropical landscape with rivers, lakes, lagoons, mountains, beaches and spices. It was because of the initiatives and focused thinking of a few visionaries, backed by the wholehearted support of the people of Kerala, that we emerged as the Super Brand called “God’s Own Country“.
Kerala, as a destination, is known for its impeccable contributions towards Responsible Tourism which caters to the economy of around 100,000 families in Kerala. Which other Industry can create such an infrastructure for the upliftment of the local community?
The journey was fantastic, though adventurous. It didn’t happen overnight. Sacrifices, commitment, hard toil and huge investments of entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, artisans, local community etc can never be forgotten. We all joined together to make Kerala Tourism great. Tourism became an industry contributing handsomely to the state’s GDP. Many of us chose to invest and make it our career and profession. It proved to be a good decision as we all benefited out of it. Our state too benefited as tourism became an important source of revenue to the state.
India will be one of the biggest losers in tourism post-Covid, if the lives of the millions of professionals and entrepreneurs in hospitality get badly affected. It’s the basic duty of the Government which enjoys 10% of its GDP, huge employment and highest foreign exchange earnings because of the sector, to support it back. Unfortunately, the industry is completely discarded in India. In the latest bulletin on the revival strategies, UNWTO reminds us that 30% of the global exports belong to tourism & hospitality. No government can afford to discard it.
It’s almost five months since the lockdown was imposed in the country. The tourism industry is still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) which will soon be shifted to ventilator before taking the last breath. We had many organizations representing us before the government and we were said to be among the industries contributing immensely to the growth of our economy. The government was happy when revenue came in from our side. When it stopped, things started to take a turn. We are no longer a necessity. We should find our way for survival as revival is still an oasis too far. But let us stay united. The only way is to have a single voice for the hospitality industry in India. The authorities can’t just act like they are sleeping. About 53 million employees are there in the tourism industry here. Every member in such families should show solidarity to the tourism industry and stay united for the cause of survival.
Flood and pandemic may return again and again but we are determined to fight. It’s the love and passion within us that’s helping us to move ahead. Dear Governments, we wish we had a little bit of support from your end – the fuel to keep us alive till things are normal. And we will not back out until our cries are heard. We will become more united on a common cause just because we are passionate about our industry. We are committed to our travellers and each and every stakeholder in the hospitality sector.